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Friday, March 28, 2008

In search of a new perspective

WOW those stars without makeup - takes me back to being 12 again, (way-way back) hoping that someday someone would 'discover' me, my real beauty shining through! Many of these women are more beautiful before the magic wand of the make-up artist was applied but the demanding standards of the public must be met.
I keep hearing, 'been here five years' running through my head. I am finishing up my class, Lingua Inglese, at PUC and the new crop of hopefuls have been asking me about myself. Curiosity about the estrangeira. When I say I have been here 5 years, there is a barely discernable (polite) lifting of the eyebrow. Their thought, ' why then don't you speak Portuguese?' can be heard floating in the air between us.
I no longer try to explain that for the first 3 years I made no effort to learn the language; I was convinced that what I wanted was to go HOME; I wanted my old life back; I wanted to feel comfort again from my world. These are not sentiments that you try to explain to strangers passing through - it is barely understandable by me let alone those that only want to hear that life is 'a polite great'. There are days and sometimes only hours, that these feeling still surface but this class, that is about language acquisition, the understanding of the structure and the purpose of language, has helped me in a surprising way. Did you know that our culture is a very big portion of who we are (of our ego or the I, as Freud called it), and that Language is the most important component of culture - therefore - an important part of how we define ourselves. Oh, the class has talked about many theories about language but this one fit into my particular situation with ease. If the house where you live is different, and the government, money system, music, and noise of the city are different and you give up your language too, who are you? [Like being a two-year-old again and resiting potty training, you don't really understand why, but you know it has to be fought in order to save yourself] How do you resist the impulse to fight this major change in who you are? And now with five years of subtle changes that happen despite my fight to maintain the 'who I am' portion of my life, I woke-up and found myself CHANGED. Now the battle to accept and to understand this newest me begins.

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