“I have this shape of a girl that I’ve felt so much that it’s become its own entity”
“Maybe Then I’ll Understand You”
Fiction. Based on a True Language Barrier.
This journal entry is inspired by true events. Some of the characters, names, businesses, incidents, and certain locations and events have been fictionalized for dramatic purposes. Any similarity to the name, character or history of any person is entirely coincidental and unintentional.
Maite: what can I say to you when we can’t communicate? We can play, yes, but when it comes to having an actual, important conversation, all we do is talk circles around each other. It takes hours to get my point across, and I’m not sure even then that you ever receive it. As always, at first, everything is new, everything is beautiful. It hasn’t even been that long. It was only two days ago that we were lying in your bed, you were begging me please, please, and then you were talking in your language, and you were whispering things in my ear, things that now I know you didn’t, couldn’t have meant. You were swept up in the moment, just like me. And I don’t blame you for it. It’s as if there is this wall between us. This semi-transparent wall. I can see you, but your appearance is filmy, distorted. I can feel that I want you. I can touch you physically, I can have you, physically, maybe even I can touch you with my spirit, but I can’t touch you with my words. I can’t move you with my words as I have done in the past, with others. Words are the enemy, here.
We are climbing up to table rock. Are you sure that you want to go hiking in this? You had asked me. And I had nodded my stubborn, reassuring, yes. I was unwilling to give up my plans. Unwilling to admit that I was wrong. And that’s how it happened with us. I wanted you, I needed to have you. I needed to have you from the moment you touched my shoulder bat, bi, hiru, lau… which number was I, Maite? How many years do I have to your thirty-six?
You know how I taste; you know the touch of my lips on yours. You know my smell, my skin, my smile. But who am I, to you? Can you see me, really? Can you understand me at all through our stunted efforts at conversation?
We are hiking up to the mesa and immediately, we are sliding, slipping in the mud. I am trying not to fall and make a fool of myself, but isn’t that how it is with language, too? You are fearless: a stranger in a strange land, and you appear totally at ease. You are wandering, climbing through a hailstorm, and while I crouch under my coat, hiding my face from the stinging pellets, you spread your arms wide. I can’t hear you over the roaring of the wind, but I imagine that you are laughing: laughing at us, laughing at the wind, the lightning, the fear, at my stubborn stupidity.
You are perpetually laughing at me, and me at you. That is something we can do well together. And what else can we do, really? We are separated by age, by language, by experience, by country of origin, even by occupation. There are so many differences and there is so little fear. There is just, for me, frustration. Frustration that I can’t express to you what I want to express. Frustration that you might read this and not understand what I am trying to say.
What am I trying to say?
I am trying to tell you that I like you. That the glimpses I receive are beautiful and fascinating. That I am starting to know you as a person. I may know your body but what I really want is to know your soul. I think this is the source of my indescribable attraction to you.
This wall between us, it forces us to move slowly. And maybe that’s a good thing, or maybe it will be our downfall. The fact that you don’t always understand me, that my words are often ambiguous to you, full of possible meanings, makes me unafraid to say anything to you. It also forces me to be more direct. No more dancing around, no more playing with words, as I so often do. Say what you mean, Jin.
Say what you mean, Maite. Hear me, is what I really want you to do. I am listening to you, you say. But how can I ever know that you understand? The only way I can make you understand is by kissing you. And that’s all I ever want to do, really.
I want to go away with you, you said. Let’s go. Let’s go to a yurt in the woods and make love and find a way of communicating that isn’t by language, isn’t by touch, but is on the level of the soul. Let’s bare our souls to each other and let them intertwine. Maybe they will entangle and we will never pry them apart. Maybe they will only circle around each other, warily, and then rush away from each other, like two lone wolves in the woods. Maybe if neither of us runs, maybe then I will understand you.