Monday, April 11, 2011

The Giving Steps.

When I was 5, the most adorable little girl joined my Kindergarten class. Her name was Kana, she had just moved from Japan, and I was eager to become her very best friend in the whole wide world.

I immediately asked my mom to call her mom, and from that moment on she was a constant play date. At my home we played 'music' on our piano, and at her home we picked dandelions from the yard. At my home we lunched on the Argentinian/Jewish food I was growing up with, and at her home we ate The Most Amazing Japanese food ever. Every bite on every dish was completely unrecognizable but beautiful, and I loved it all. Looking back, I'm both surprised and proud that my 5 years old self did not recoil in horror at the Never Before Seen meals I scarfed down at her mother's table, but I am less proud and not at all surprised that I was caught teaching her how to say "Amanda is a skunk," Amanda being another little girl in our class who wanted to be her friend. Clearly I have always been a bitch.

Some years later, I asked my mother whatever happened to Kana. I don't recall her answer because I am an idiot. I do however remember learning something I've always found fascinating - apparently Kana did not speak English. Not one word. Except, of course, "Amanda is a skunk." But I don't think either Kana or myself ever realized that we were not speaking the same language. It certainly never interfered with our day. How the Fuck did we communicate? And whatever method we used, why have I forgotten it?

About 50 feet from my apartment door there are 5 concrete stairs that lead to someone's porch and front door. In our 1st year here, that apartment was empty, and I was free to sit there as my dog did his Dirty Sinful Business or basked in the sun, but last year I stopped resting there when a young couple and their dog Kingsley moved in. My dog LOVED Kingsley. Loved. Taking him out always required a stop at Kingsley's patch of lawn first. You wouldn't think that dogs could communicate so well when they weren't in each other's presence, but those two were leaving messages for each other on that poor, trampled patch of land. Their own sort of text messaging or Facebook status updates. Last month the couple and their dog moved out leaving my poor puppy unable to find Kingsley's calling card. I have my resting spot back, but he misses his friend.

Last week I noticed a young woman inside that apartment holding her baby and staring out the window at us so I waved and smiled. Being from NY doesn't automatically make you a dick - I've always liked being nice to the new kid. The following day, she and the baby were once again staring at us from the window so we smiled and waved again. The following day she came outside. It didn't take long before her thick Indian accent said - in perfect English - "My English is not very good." Shit. How did I do this when I was little? The dogs' communicating method is out of the question. She's not deaf and I don't want to speak to her like she's an idiot, so I tried to choose words that she may know.

"I think your English is very good! Where did you learn it?"
"In India."
"And when did you move here?"
"Last week."
"You moved to this apartment last week? Or you moved from India last week?"
"From India last week."


She comes out every day at least once while I'm with the beast, and I have learned, in snippets, that her name is pronounced Rina, she moved here because of her husband's job, the baby is 4 months old, and she was a beautician but is now home with the kid and quite bored. I know what it's like to move but have never had the cojones to move to another Continent. So today I told her that in 2 days I will take her and her baby to the park just down the road. Unless I'm really, really sick that day, like Bleeding Out My Eyes sick, I intend to go. I don't know what the hell we will talk about, or more specifically How we will talk, but if we can figure it out without having to piss on the grass or insulting Amanda, I will secretly begin thinking those are 5 very magical steps.

Dialog Box

The language of friendship is not words, 
but meanings.

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