5.30.14 Translation


So I’ve been with my husband for thirteen years now; in June we will be married for ten!  I was 21 when we got married, and even now, after having practically grown up together, we’re still trying to get it right.  The other day, what started out as a compliment from my husband somehow turned South and became a brilliant fail.  I can laugh about it today (not two days ago, but now, yes). Some people say that men and women speak different languages, but I don’t think that’s it.  I think we speak the same language … we just hear different things.  Somehow, between the time words leave his mouth and reach my ears, something is lost in translation.  But alas … intentions and expectations are not always running on the same frequencies, and in my experience, I’ve found they never have.

Take middle school relationships for instance – there’s an opportunity to learn from!  I’ll never forget being in sixth grade and having a crush on one particular blue-eyed-boy.  Well … his eyes started out blue, but quickly turned red when (in my awesome display of affection) I knocked his hat off, while simultaneously scratching his cornea.  Yeah.  The best part was having him call me that night to tell me the doctor’s report.  I sobbed apologies for about a half hour while he consoled me and assured me his temporary blurred vision wouldn’t last.  I saw a quote of epic genius to relay this nightmare attempt at dating. It said, “I don’t have to flirt, I will seduce you with my awkwardness.” And awkward it was … is … and might be forever I’m realizing. 

Times change, but humans don’t.  I look around me every day and see the same games of “let me pick on you to show you I like you,” or “how about I talk to so-and-so about you-know-who for you, so you don’t have to talk to them yourself.”  Hilarious.  I like to pretend that I was much more mature and that I was never “like them,” but I totally was.  I know it.  I remember my best friend and I practicing phone calls (back when people called each other), prepping for hours with outfits I would now consider hideous and scribbling names of potential future husbands on everything from notebook pages to shower-steamed mirrors.  My husband once admitted to me that he used to practice kissing oranges (a tip his sister taught him).  What amazes me is that we spend so much time devoting ourselves to communicating with one another and royally, epically crash and burn time and time again; and still … I think it is a problem of translation.

You know how when you speak another language, you sometimes need to change the order of the words, because they don’t quite match up and mean exactly what they would after converting them?  Well … that’s what happens.  A few weeks ago I witnessed it in my classroom.  The students were on their way out the door and the guy said to the girl, “Are you okay? You’re acting quiet.”

To which she said, “I’m fine.”

“Well what’s wrong?” he asked, obviously trying. “Will you text me later?”

“Why can’t you text me?” she asked?

And that’s where I intervened.  I couldn’t help it!  I had to!  It was like watching an unnecessary train-wreck in slow motion … I needed to save the poor kid! “Hun,” I said to the girl, “he is trying.  I know we girls are fickle and we don’t know what we want sometimes, but he’s really giving it everything he’s got here … you’ve gotta help him out.”

“Yeah,” the boy said nodding.

“Sometimes us girls are tough,” I told him.

“Yes,” he said, “sometimes you gotta just live like a dude.”

So there we go again … losing the battle of communication.  Because what on Earth does it mean to “live like a dude?”  Of course I told my husband about it and he “got it.”  Sometimes I think I can get close to “getting it,” I think I’m chill and cool … but if you have to tell yourself you’re cool how cool can you really be?  At heart I’m still that girl who accidentally punched the boy in the eye trying to get his attention.  And like my 13 year-old student listening for the right words, I’m waiting for my husband to say what I’m wanting to hear instead of what he actually says.   Poor guys … poor girls … none of us really have a clue do we?

The good news is, we keep trying, and somehow – it works.  In the case of my husband and I, I like to think that sometimes it isn’t all about the words; I always end up saying too many and waiting for him to say a few more.  We could be miserable with misinterpretations, or unmet expectations, but we aren’t.  Somehow we’re graced instead and vocabulary isn’t too much of an issue (usually).  It is like Shakespeare once said, “When I saw you, I fell in love; and you smiled, because you knew.”

So here’s to all those awkward conversations … the ones that get lost in translation, and the love we find – nevertheless.

Literarily yours,



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