Saturday, August 28, 2010

love languages

I spent about 45 minutes late last night discussing all the ways to say "I love you" in different languages - English vs. Spanish and Portuguese. The people I've met down here find it very odd that we only have one phrase - they say we use "love" for everything. I love my new boots. I love sushi. I love my family. I love my (nonexistent) husband, etc. In Spanish, "te amo" is fuerte - they don't just throw it around. I didn't understand this until coming here - I thought "te quiero" (which literally translates to "I want you") was interchangeable with "te amo," but it's not - they use it to maintain the purity of the much-deeper "te amo." Same in Portuguese, Alex says.

And you never use "love" with objects here. If I love my new boots I say "me encantan." (Literally, they enchant me.) Or "me gustan mucho" (they please me a lot). I don't amo anything down here.

We touched on the weird transition between friend and significant other, too - when you're just friends with someone, and they do something awesome - bring you ice cream as a surprise, or give you an amazing backrub - you can say, "Oh my gosh, I love you!" and it doesn't mean anything serious. But if you start dating that person, you have to pull up short and stop saying it so casually. "Oh my gosh, I lo- I mean, thanks!" Gotta love (see?) the awkward moments.

We talked about the word "enamorarse" as well. One of the guys saw the difference between love and being enamored as the exclusivity - he may be enamored of his new car, but the car has no such feelings for him. (What a tease.) I remember our professor in Spain saying that the structure of the phrase in Spanish must reflect a different mindset - it's "enamorado de alguien," so enamored of someone, versus being enamored with someone, as we say in English. "In Spanish, it doesn't matter what the other person feels, we're just in love with them anyway." he joked.

Even being "in love" isn't just used for relationships. I'm in love with this city. I'm in love with this life. Or we use it to qualify our feelings on a subject. "What do you think of this lede?" "I'm not in love with it..." and so on.

But this I-love-you business - have we evaporated the strength of the word through overuse? I don't think so...I may say I love you to lots of different things and people, but that doesn't mean I don't feel it. There are distinct levels of love; it all depends on context. But I mean every one of them.

Maybe it's people's definitions of love that make the difference. In its best form, I think, and the way it should be said to people you truly love - your family, your significant other, your best friends - it means that you care about the other person and their happiness more than your own; that you love them more than you love yourself.

I grew up - and am still growing - in a family that says I love you all the time. I didn't know there was any other way for a family to be, until learning late in high school that several of my friends just didn't say it to or hear it from their parents. Not for lack of love, I'm sure, but they just don't say it. It made me so sad. What if something happened and they lost the chance to say it one last time? What would they feel then?

Really, though, coming back to the language of it - English is rather poor in ways to express love. Yes, you can say "I adore you," but that sounds sappy, and very one-sided. "I want you" is most often purely sexual. "I need you" doesn't necessarily have anything to do with love at all.

One of my favorite sermons at church in Seattle a couple years ago talked about the passage at the end of John, where Jesus "reinstates" Peter. He asks Peter 3 times, "Do you love me?" and three times, Peter responds, "Lord, you know I love you." But this is a scene that loses its potency in translation. The type of love Jesus uses is "agape" in Greek - God-love, unconditional love. "Peter, do you agape me?" Peter, however, responds, "Lord, you know I phileo you." Philia is the word for brother-love, platonic affection - nowhere near as strong as agape. Peter can't do the agape love. So the third time Jesus asks, he comes down to Peter's level. "Peter, do you phileo me?" I love that. (there it is again.)

Even the way I end my posts on here could be seen as throwing that word around. I've tried to consistently say "love always, molly." In my mind it's both a sign-off and a command, which double-meaning is fortunately unique to English.

I'm feeling ponder-ful today. Further posts may follow before I figure out what I'm doing tonight.

Love always.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

I get by with a little help

My almost month-long hiatus from blogging could indicate that the past month has been either boring and therefore non-blogworthy, or just too much fun to leave time to write about it. It's probably a little of both, in the end.

I still have some days where I feel like I don't do anything worthwhile in the office; after the peso and stock snippets are done in the morning, I spend a lot of time reading the news and trying to find story ideas I can pitch to Simon or Alonso. It's frustrating, but at least I don't have the guilt of being paid for nothing hanging over me. Hurray for unpaid internships! (Aren't they illegal, by the way? Hunh.)

But something has changed - my attitude, my interactions with people outside the office, my positive relationships with coworkers - everything has come together to keep me feeling optimistic and motivated in this job. It's still not exactly what I expected, but it's been a great experience.

To that end, yesterday I changed my plane ticket, so I'm staying for 10 extra days. Flying home on Sept. 11...yeesh. I figure I'm safe, though; if any crap's going down, I won't be in U.S. airspace until Sept. 12, so...fingers crossed! Haha hmmmm.

Anyway, 10 days gives me 6 more days of work, which brings this internship up to a nice round 3 months. A lucky side effect of not being paid - they don't have to kick me out after 10 weeks. So it's all working out for the best.

Speaking of the best, my boss is awesome. He's learned how to properly use "bitchin'" and "peace out" (the verb), and he busts out his impeccable Ali G/Rasta accent at the most opportune moments. All this from a British bureau chief and father of two. Who knew?

Outside of work, I have friends that I never expected to have - Chilean friends, friends who have stood up for me and protected me and welcomed me into their group when I have done nothing to deserve it. Hanging out with them is like spending time with friends at home - instantly comfortable, relaxed, ridiculous and hilarious, all at once. And they don't care that I don't understand all their chilenismos; I understand enough. I feel so blessed...even when I was first getting to know them, I would walk into the room and be greeted by a chorus of "Mollyyyyy!" Now that we've been carriteando juntos for a month and a half, they all feel like my brothers.

And here's that awful, awesome dilemma that I keep having. I make friends, wonderful, lasting friends, and then have to leave them. It's getting easier, I guess, and it had better; this is my future, after all. If I have this much trouble thinking about leaving after 3 months, how hard will it be when I find a new post after living somewhere for 3 years?

I guess I'm comforted by the knowledge that "goodbye" never has to be forever. It may be a while (hopefully not a LONG while) before I come back down here, but claro que it's going to happen. I can't keep away. I'll have to work and not spend money on clothes or Chipotle and save my dollaz to fly back down here, but that's entirely doable. These people down here are family, now - you don't just forget about family.

This post does not, by any means, mean that I'm not going to write a whiny angsty blog when I have to leave (3 weeks from Saturday). It's bound to happen. Just like I'll be mopey and sad for the first few weeks at home. But it's not...permanent. It's not soul-deep. Al fondo, I'm an optimist. Look how beautiful and glorious my life has been thus far - is there any doubt that the months and years to come will be any less kickass?

Not on your life.

Love always,