It’s somehow worked out that the only vocabulary I know in other languages is all based in conflict resolution. Traveling with my brother Max in Spain, I learned how to say, “please don’t cut his head off with that broken beer bottle, he’s just kidding about your mother,” in Catalan. With my sister Thea in Greece, it was “she’s married, she’s married, leave her alone, she’s just drunk, that’s why she’s dancing like that!” With my college roommate in Indonesia, I became fluent in “no, she is not a white devil, she’s just a redhead with a chip on her shoulder about organized religion,” in Bahasa Indonesia AND Javanese. Although to be fair, I also learned how to say “the Komodo Dragon is angry” on that trip, but it was Tami who was making the dragon angry, so that still supports my thesis statement. And now here I am with Raoul in Morrocco. First trip with a boyfriend, and I had high hopes that our vocabulary would focus more on love and the future rather than conflict and violence. But here we are, at the bar, and the first attempt at Arabic I’ve braved had to be my pre-memorized, “no, he is not insulting you, he just really likes your hat and wanted to see what it was made of!” It’s starting to dawn on me that if I want to expand my language capabilities, I’m going to need to find new travel companions first.
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