All The Languages I Speak
English, obviously. That's my most official, quantifiable fluency.
I can understand a lot of Spanish, and when I'm in a Spanish-dominant city, all the words and rules I know come flooding back, but I'm way too intimidated to try to speak it, other than to pander to taco truck owners at 2am when the bars let out. Innate within Spanish is this machismo - a pride in saying everything fast and with a flourish. I can barely roll my R's and have no desire to be machismo, so every year I stand in awe of this speedy, percussive other language and all the people around me who speak it.
I had access to French through my whole upbringing, but only actually took one mandatory French class in the sixth grade. Alberta seemed to be the least accommodating province to French-bilingual speakers, and French class in my Catholic high school was treated as something only true nerds took. Now half of my Canadian peers can converse in French, and all I know are the words and phrases from prepackaged food and shampoo bottles. It's embarrassing. I have always wanted to take a year off from everything else to learn as much French as I can.
I speak Boomer, and Millennial, and TikTok/IG have given opened a gateway to the nuanced, essential humor of Gen Z.
I'm pretty well versed in foodie/restaurant lingo. I can go on at length about sustainable seafood, biodynamic wine, and different plant (and animal) based cheese. I can translate a bourgeois Beverly Hills menu to a tourist from the Midwest, a stoned surfer, or a spoiled 4th grader. I can carefully pour $500 bottles of Grenache for stuffy traditionalists without flinching, and I can help you accommodate your diet restrictions/allergies/sensitivities while holding 3-4 plates and remembering to bring hot sauce.
I can talk sports. They're not really my go-to anymore but I can turn my sports dialect on like a switch. I retain enough statistics every year to know who's winning cups and who's ready to retire. My first sports language is hockey, but I can manage fluency in football, basketball, baseball, and most Olympic sports. Despite not caring much anymore about whose team wins (too many Oiler heartbreaks have left me pretty detached), I still have a lot of fun watching the play and drinking beers in the stands, and bragging about Connor McDavid.
I'm fluent in first impressions. I adjust my charm by degrees to leave the nicest (or most boring) memory in a stranger's mind. I've worked for decades on my 'genuine but considerate' introductory role. It's a hit about 85% of the time, and I try not to take the other 15% personally.
I speak a lot of dance disciplines, and can mesh with dance cultures in a lot of places. I lean on silliness and hard, focused work more than competitive showmanship, but I love cheering on other people in battles. I like to think I can talk to anyone about dance: dancers and performers of different genres, little kids, Hollywood industry types, and aunts/uncles. I love bridging dance gaps with words.
I am pretty fluent in metaphysical terms. I know what people mean when they talk about getting on a 'higher vibration', accessing 'higher timelines', or the 'quantum field of all possibilities'. Honestly, I love that sh*t. It helps me stay grateful and present and let sh*t go. It helps me stay sane in 2020 to think about higher dimensions, the spiritual power in our emotions, and nonlinear time. It helps me to see how systems of old beliefs create people's 'truths', and learning to be ok with all the truths that are different from mine provides relief in times of uncertainty. Being unhappy about the growing list of horrible things in 2020 isn't helping anyone, least of all me. Being led through trial and error and self awareness to an incrementally happier 'me' every single day--seems to be helping both me and those around me. I don't speak this language all the time, but when I do, it feels nice.
I speak Yogi. I speak Cyclist. I speak Actor. I speak Cruise Ship Employee. I speak Canadian, and New Yorker, and Los Angeleno. I'm getting better at speaking Workshop Writer. I'm learning to speak Music. I speak Empathy...
and I speak Love.
There are different dialects of Love, as I'm sure you know...
The slow and sturdy love of old friendship.
The fun, flirtatious love of new connections.
The painful love of past lessons.
The baseline love in mundane conversations.
The appreciative love of cohorts and collaborators.
The evolving, sunlit love of a soulmate straight from the angels.
The ethereal love of a single moment in time, where I am alive and stoked at that fact.
What languages are you more fluent in? Any you're looking to learn more deeply?