Posted inEditor's Pick

Language Acquisition

Diana Spechler | Longreads | October 27, 2017 | 3,875 words
Posted inEssays & Criticism, Featured, Nonfiction, Story

Language Acquisition

Diana Spechler recalls fleeing her life in New York City for a new one with a painter in his village in central Mexico.
Dennis K. Johnson/Lonely Planet Images/Getty

Diana Spechler | Longreads | October 2017 | 16 minutes (3,875 words)

It begins at an outdoor café while you’re working for a month in central Mexico. From one table away, you zero in on his brown forearm, the two black cuffs tattooed around it. You want to touch those cuffs, encircle his arm with your hands. Soon you’ll learn the word esposas, which means both “handcuffs” and “wives,” but today you know only polite Spanish, please-and-thank-you Spanish. You smile at him until he approaches. When he asks if you have a boyfriend, you start to cry and can’t stop. You want to explain something to him — that you loved someone the way a dog loves her owner — but the only available language is snot. He holds a cocktail napkin to your nose. “Blow,” he says. For a second, you think he’s serious. Then you laugh so hard you feel something shift, the way the sky shifts from blue to pink.

***

His socks never match. His clothes and his dog are splattered with paint. His mother embroiders designs on his guayaberas and does his laundry. At night, he crashes wherever he is — on a porch, on a couch, by the lake in his pueblo. He takes you hiking to see the bursting white moon. He takes you to meet the shaman who can erase your pain with feathers. He takes you to see pyramids and an eagle carved into a mountain. He knows how to build a fire. He knows how to prepare a sweat lodge. He knows how to get people to buy him drinks. He knows how to wrap your hair around one hand and undress you with the other. During sex, he says all kinds of things you wish you understood. By the lake, you get so stoned together he stares at your face and asks if you’re Buddha.

“If I were Buddha, I couldn’t tell you,” you say.

“You have the face of Buddha.” He takes a drag, exhales a cloud, leans back on one elbow. “But don’t tell me. You are right. It is better not to tell me.”

Continue reading “Language Acquisition”