On (not) Speaking Spanish

My little brother is acting as Officiate at our wedding and we initially wanted him to perform the ceremony in English as well as Spanish to reflect both of our cultures. After much discussion, we decided against it for several reasons. For one, we felt like it was a lot to ask of our seventeen-year-old-non-Spanish-speaking-Officiate, and because everyone attending our wedding does speak English it also seemed like we were making it more complicated than it needed to be. Since then all of these other Spanish-speaking thoughts have been creeping up on me.

The Quail’s family has never made me feel any less than welcome into their homes and their hearts, but I do feel isolated sometimes at family functions when they are talking and laughing in a (very much their own) mixture of Spanish and English and I can’t keep up. I feel guilty that I have never taken lessons or made an effort to learn my future husband’s native language. And, although I have never really thought of us as an interracial couple, the wedding has me doing just that. I keep thinking about our future and what effect my lack of Spanish could have on it. For example, The Quail’s dad’s English is not as strong as the other members of his family, and it would be incredible to have a more complex conversation with him without the miming we tend to do with each other. Just seeing the smile on his face if I could say a lot more that “¿como estas?” to him would be so much fun.

The Quail came to New York when he was eleven and is very much an American in some aspects, but I do think he questions his sense of culture and identity–as I am sure many people who came to America as children do. I know he thinks about the fact that he would be an entirely different person, had his parents not made the decision to come to New York. I remember asking him early in our relationship if he remembered realizing when the voice in his head starting thinking in English rather than Spanish and he didn’t know or didn’t know how to answer. I feel like that somewhat bothers him, the fact that it did change and he maybe didn’t realize it.

I also worry about when we (hopefully) have children, and what effect my lack of Spanish will have on them. I know that I have plenty of time and can take classes by then, and I don’t mean to sound like there is nothing I can do to remedy this–but realistically the children we do have will have the ability to soak up both languages and I will never be as fluent as I would like to be. There aren’t any quick answers to these questions and concerns I am having, and I know that, I guess that lately marriage–and especially the joining of two cultures as well as two lives–is something I am thinking about a lot and will be something I’ll have to figure out as I go.


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