Dear Spanish host family,

In 1997 we sat around the table together in your middle-class apartment with the marble flooring. When my Spanish was bad we sang songs from The Little Mermaid in English. You overfed me with your omnipresent table bread. We drank yellow Fanta. When my Spanish was good we talked politics and you asked me about the death penalty and I explained how Texas was “básicamente un país distinto.”

I can’t remember your names. Dad, are you Juan?

You let me make you scrambled eggs. You’d never seen scrambled eggs before.

So, here’s the deal: Americans are all the same, and I am an American. We are enthusiastic at first, heartbreakingly sincere at times, but with a disappointing lack of follow-through that undercuts it all in the end. I would apologize for that if it was something I could do anything about, but I’m sorry, it’s just the way we are.

Jorge? Es posible que tu nombre era Jorge?

In my classes at the escuela I learned that Spanish proverb, “nunca es tarde si la dicha es bueno,” but I don’t know if it’s true. Maybe it’s just a Spanish thing. Sometimes in America it is too late. You’ve got to understand, over here we just let things go.

I am really sorry for using so much water in the shower.


Amy M. O’Leary
St. Paul, MN