It's nice sometimes
on days off from obligation
to drive to new places with someone you like.
When you take off the expressway into small little towns with fancy light posts and old bank buildings
winding through riverfront roads lined with big houses and boats
or oil empires.
It's nice sometimes
to stop to eat at some place unexpected when all you've had to eat that day was a
Nutella to go
and after that have a coffee filled to the brim.
And then you explore
the small sights each place has to offer
like where the second prime minister of Canada lays resting.
Or a little waterfront under a big bridge
where everyone comes to enjoy the waves and wind of the cold river
some floating down it in groups
some sitting at its edge
And even though the language is the same you feel a bit foreign in this place that is not your home
Where you get surprised looks from people who calculate in their heads how far you live from here.
and what brought you up here?
It's nice sometimes to be somewhere new.
Where has the time gone?
I feels like only May when I was planning all the summery things I’d do during
And forgot about August
the month before summer ends.
And just like that you arrive
For me, you are always the relaxation month of the season.
Lazy and hazy with changing weather that makes fall clothing look itchy and hot
Until closer to the end of the month when you sneak in cold pockets of air making me glad I bought that sweater I didn’t need.
You’ve also been a month of consistency.
Each August the same as the last
The precursor to the whole school year,
Where I’d use your days to plan and schedule and register for books and classes
Getting pumped (or deflated) for the start of fall semester
But all that’s come to an end now August, as I’m finished school
Finished my academic goals
And it’s a weird feeling knowing I wont be apart of the back to school bustle
(though I bought new pencils and duotangs because why not)
that your days have been spent otherwise.
But I don’t mind it.
It gives me the chance to see you through a different lens
with the cicadas humming early in the morning
and the sun fading slower over the sky.
The harbingers of the changing season.
My changing season.
At 3 am each morning I wake up to see a white pole in the corner of my room.
Sounds simple enough only it’s not, because there is no pole in any corner of the room.
It’s a shadow brought on by a bit of moonlight play and a bad sleeping angle.
Every morning I wake up and see this pole
And every time, I see it like it is the first time
too early to rationalize with my mind that in two hours the pole will be gone.
So I try to guess what the pole is used for.
So I try to guess what the pole is used for.
I’m staying in grandpa’s old room, which is a new, odd, thing because in my memories this room belonged to a house which kept itself off limits to everyone. And now I’m sleeping in it.
Dark curtains and thick smoke made it looks smaller than it was, with strikingly bright blue painted walls that only revealed themselves when the curtains were drawn back. And that wasn’t often.
Now it is the happiest shade of orange imaginable. And by 630am when the sun starts to rise into the gold curtains of my room the place glows bright and vivid like a tangerine, much to my tired dismay.
It looks nothing like I remember, but it can
if I try hard enough
to picture the curtains blood velvet crimson instead of gold
contrasted against the bright blue walls, weathered with smoke.
And If I squint enough I can almost picture him retreating to his home close to the end of evening before the lights would go out. Drawing the curtains tighter than they were
and I wonder
as I lay here unable to sleep
if ever, in the middle of the night, he, too awoke to see what he thought was a white pole in the corner of his room.
“ Do you know what a foreign accent is? It’s a sign of bravery. ” Amy Chua
When I was younger I owned the words.
Baba came to Canada for a short stay and like any child does, I absorbed her language like a sponge. When I returned to Europe the following months my absorbing paid off as I was an incredibly fluent 3 years old
people like to remind me.
Outspoken and talkative with a fluent accent.
Then I continued growing up
trying to fit in which meant trying to wriggle out of my dual citizenship heritage hoping to replace it with a singular one, English.
And after time the words were no longer mine.
Summers later when I'd return I stayed quiet for a long time.
Because my Czech voice was rusty and I just never found time to oil it.
I would look on silently
like being separated by a glass wall hearing, understanding, and smiling
Wanting to respond but unable to.
And when I tried, using all the language knowledge that never left me, I found myself shy and embarrassed by how the words sounded
tumbling awkwardly around my mouth like ice cubes.
It isn’t until I travel that I realize how much I depend on words to communicate, to express myself.
How much I take for granted living in a place where I know the language inside and out, where I work less to make myself understood.
Traveling has a funny way of shifting our place in the world. Majority to minority. Fluent to beginner.
Coming back to this place I prepared myself for the inevitable questions and comments from little Czech ladies
Do you speak Czech?
You must practice!
But you understand?
anticipating them at every meeting. Ready to respond with the same old sentence.
But this time felt different, I discovered.
Because I wanted this time to feel different.
I didn’t want to be afraid of my own accent, of my limited knowledge.
I didn’t want to be afraid to learn more.
So sending a silent prayer for courage to speak the words that I never felt were mine:
And let me say, the fruits of trying have never been sweeter.
I practiced more and more this time, not caring how bad I felt or sounded when I said oběd instead of obchod by mistake
Or when my accent prevented me from pronouncing that pesky ř sound
Because I could respond with the words I forgot I knew or try to arrange them to make the most sense.
And it felt so good to try.
After years of muddy silences, smiles and gestures
There is power in owning a sentence
In learning more about yourself through mistakes.
It took along time to get here but I no longer care if my mouth doesn’t form the words as well as I want them to. It’s not about the word but how you use the word to be apart of the moment, accented or not.
it's about trying
And what I learned most of all is that people are more forgiving in this Global Village than my worries and doubts know. They don’t mind as much as you do
that you speak their language a little wonky
With the wrong tense
In the wrong order
Because chances are, they were trying to learn your language once too
And it was tinged with a bit of an accent.
* In which a story accompanies a piece of fashion, whatever it happens to be.
Newest instalment in my ever-growing shoe collection.
Which is a big deal
because this is a pretty big heel for me to wobble around on.
Not that I can't walk in them but that I used to be afraid of owning my height.
I'm not very tall but any means, but I was always the tall-est.
And being tall in what seems like a short world can create lasting impressions
ones that up until now stuck with me.
Since grade school
Never wanting to stand out
Always opting for the flatter, sometimes uglier shoe just so I could be apart instead of above.
A curse that lasted until a while ago
when I realized that it was ok to be above average
and that I really wasn't that tall.
it was all in my head, planted there by snide remarks from friends and pimply, short boys.
It's funny how long you carry thoughts with you.