Every day I come home from class between 1:30 and 1:45 and the house is empty. But not for long.
Around 2:00 I hear, “¡Susana, Susana!” It is my little hermana (sister) coming home from pre-school. We play peek-a-boo and wave hello at our reflections on the Photobooth application on my Mac, while my madre (mother) bustles around in the kitchen fixing lunch.
When I arrived in Spain I learned quickly that lunchtime is not just “lunch.” It is family time, a time to have a good meal, and to settle down. For my madre and me, it has become a time for us to talk and learn from each other.
When my padre (father) leaves to put my hermana down for her afternoon siesta, my madre and I remain at the table. As we talk, I learn where to get the best deal on rain boots, that there are no alcohol commercials in Spain at Christmas time, and proper etiquette at Spanish weddings. She tells me why you should never eat with your hands in front of strangers, why it is okay to leave milk out for hours at a time, and why I should date that cute guy she saw on my Facebook.
She speaks English, I speak Spanish, and we help each other. Sometimes, things get really intense. Before we know it we’re drawing charts with conjugations and figures of speech, and dashing into the next room to grab the Spanish-English dictionary.
I tell her that there is no such thing as sandwich bread with the crusts cut off in the United States, what I plan to cook on Thanksgiving Day, and confess my distaste for blood sausage. We talk about our mothers and sisters and the friends we’ve lost. We laugh with and at each other, and sometimes tears end up on the tablecloth.
Five weeks from today I will get on a plane and head back to the United States. Lunchtime will revert back to its drive-thru, dine-and-dash routine. But for now I’ll sit and enjoy my lunchtime lessons. I have a lot left to learn in five weeks.