Isabel Allende is teaching me Spanish. So is Mario Vargas Llosa. All the greats. They can be your teachers, too. All you need are their books, a dictionary, and Anki flashcards.
I thought the better I knew Spanish, the more equipped I’d be to speak to my Grandma Eva, and especially her mom and dad, Josefa and Antonio, who never learned English, in my dreams. I mean, just supposing it would ever come to that. They’re no longer on earth, but perhaps deep sleep will be our medium. I realize this is an odds game.
Well. I had The Dream. Antonio and Josefa, my great-grandparents, were dark figures, flitting about in the back rooms of this rustic house. They were unreachable. It was in Oakland. There was a lot of hay.
Grandma Eva was busy at work, at the kitchen table which was covered in a red checkered tablecloth. On the table were buckets of water.
Mira, Abuelita. Hablo castellano ahora, como tú, I said.
“I don’t know why you’re bothering with this,” she said. “You’re in America.”
She hasn’t changed.