“Kámen, nůžky, papír!”
Jeb, the Bohemian and I are throwing our hands in the circle. Fists, flattened hands and peace signs.
This is Roshambo. Also known as Rock, Paper, Scissors and apparently this ancient game is universal.
Jeb’s absorbent eight-year old mind has grasped these foreign words with ease and he not only exclaims them with solid vigor, he remembers them all day long.
Me, on the other hand, I’m in alien territory and my thirty-eight year old brain is dull.
In the evening at the dinner table, roshambo comes up again in our conversation.
“Ok, so it’s kámen…something…and then papír, right?” I ask.
Jeb laughs. “Nůžky!”
The Bohemian smiles.
“Right. Kámen, nůžky, papír. Ok, I got it.”
But I don’t’ feel like I’ve got it. This foreign language thing is slow going.
I wish I spoke five languages. The Bohemian speaks English, Polish, some Russian and I think he’d do alright in Germany.
Me, I grew up in California, exposed my whole life to Spanish. I studied it for years in school and I fantasize that if I lived in a Spanish-speaking country, I’d become fluent enough to start dreaming in that language. Though for now, I stumble clumsily through the most simple of Spanish conversation.
And then there’s Czech. Now that is truly foreign. These beautiful sounds that emerge from the mouth of the Bohemian have letter combinations I’ve never heard before. I am in a strange and unknown linguistic land where the exotic sounds wash over me in rolling ‘r’s’ and lilting ‘ch’s’ (although I think ‘ch’ is actually a letter in the alphabet that sounds sort of English ‘h’-ish and the English ‘ch’ sound is actually denoted in Czech by a ‘c’ with some cool diacritical mark. Whew. Anyway…). Just listening, I’m swirled in a spin where I cannot grasp the letters and hold them.
Give me a Czech word and half the time I cannot repeat it back correctly. There are subtle sounds, new combinations. Altogether different letters in the alphabet. ‘R’s I can’t roll. ‘H’s made from deep in the throat.
I fumble like a typical American. The Bohemian is patient, like his typical self.
My head is thick. My mind conditioned. I’m not used to something so radically different. I am realizing that some things need to be very close and in my face to really grasp, especially the unfamiliar.
Ok. Staying ever-present in the Now and ever-dedicated to offering you the real and true Daily Chronicles, I will report the moments as they occur.
No sooner did I punctuate that last sentence (“…especially the unfamiliar”), ready to describe to you the moments when I shine most truly in foreign terrain, than Jeb emerges from his bedroom – 5:20am – reporting that he is ill.
My Mother hat is donned instantly in a flurry of thermometers, juice, cold wash cloths and lavender oil. He does have a fever. Emails are sent to Dad and today’s work clients. No school. And Jeb’s birthday celebration scheduled for tomorrow is now in question.
It is currently 6:08am. Still dark. Jeb rests. I reach to complete a posting for the Archives while still staying attentive by his side.
Where was I going with all this?
Rock, paper scissors.
The universal game of random chance that transcends all language.
My exploration into new territory.
Attempts to learn the subtleties.
Practicing grace among detours.
A reminder to have fun with the game.