I am a sucker for books. Books galore! Books a million. I love books. But I also love not having a lot of stuff. So the ideal situation is to buy books for other people (and theoretically, purchase an e-reader, but I’m pretty riotously not interested in that at the moment).
I also have this family. I mean, they’re not my family, but they’re mine, you know? We’re not blood, and we sometimes go too long without talking, but the D-As (last name, not their hairstyle) are my family, probably since before they asked me to be H’s godmother, but certainly since then.
So when I was in Buenos Aires in one of the chichi design stores that makes you want to act like you’re a movie star, I saw two children’s books on sale, one by Umberto Eco, and one by Ray Bradbury (called something like Switch off the Night) in Spanish, I was so happy to have these kids (H and her brother) to buy the books for.
I brought over the gifts on Christmas day, between catwatching (Abby, Charlie’s doing fine!) and going to bed ridiculously early. I kind of expected the world to be full of chaos, of a boy running around throwing things and a girl making up her new “head” (one of those frightening disembodied heads you’re supposed to make up and style the hair of). But when I got there, H was having a moment, and so I went upstairs to see what was up. Eventually she brought the head up and demonstrated how the hair could be streaked with a variety of colors, and offered to streak mine. (I declined).
She then noticed the envelope with the book on her bed, and asked what it was, and immediately settled down into reading the book with me. It’s about a boy who never goes out to play in the dark because he loves light. One day, a girl (called Negra, or Black, in Spanish) comes to visit him to show him how you can turn on the night by turning out the lights. And they all lived happily ever after, playing with the crickets on the lawn.
H and I took turns, first with words, then with sentences, and then with pages when she grew tired. And she called me out on two pronunciation glitches I still have, which are the ll (I pronounce it like a straight English y, but it really has some j-ness to it), and pronouncing all rs like rr, even in the middle of words. It was funny and sweet, and I didn’t mind it at all, and I listened in marvel, maybe for the first time, to how beautifully she speaks, how every sound comes out just the way it should, and I remembered that when she was tiny, she would say, “Soy juerte!” (I’m strong, but the word is fuerte with an f, not juerte with a j). And we never corrected her, but one day she just started saying fuerte. (And in fact, she is quite strong).
And I thought about how even if I were to live in Chile for another million years, and even bought another thousand books, I would probably never deshacerme de (get rid of) those pronunciation glitches. But it’s okay, because your family, even your familia postiza (fake family) loves you just the way you are.