Gabe is gone for another early flight test this morning, leaving me with a luxurious morning to myself. While I spend a lot of time alone here during the week, for some reason having the flat to myself in the morning is just the best. Therein lies most of my problem: my loneliness has yet to overwhelm my introversion enough to actually force me to make friends. Ha.

Yesterday was a rough day, unexpectedly so. I started the day with a trio of difficult emails from friends at home, which somehow I made the mistake of starting to read before I had had my coffee. By the time I got half way through the second one, I realized that this simply wouldn’t do, but it was already too late — the tone was set for the rest of my day.

Somehow, it made the distance seem even further, knowing that my friends were in need and I could do nothing more than write silly words to comfort them. Worst of all, I couldn’t even call them for most of the day here without waking them up (which would kind of defeat the purpose.) This reminder of how far I am from home stuck with me for the rest of the day, even despite a mid-day swim and a haircut.

Luckily, the haircut provided adventure enough to lighten my spirits somewhat. Even though no one in the salon spoke English, least of all my hairdresser, it turns out that the salon experience completely transcends language barriers. As the lady washed my hair (always my favorite part), she gossiped with the other beauticians and the customers in fast Brazilian Portuguese, of which I understood almost nothing. Although my life, my world, and my language are entirely different than the other women in the salon, I still felt an affinity with them. Just like at the gym, I thought to myself: OK, this is a language I speak.

Unfortunately it turned out that that language is not enough when it comes to practical concerns, like how much hair to leave on the cutting room floor. I told her not to cut it too short, but it ended up almost as short as it was back in February (although Gabe assures me it’s longer.) It’s a great cut, and it only cost 10 euros, but I really wasn’t prepared for short hair again. Oh well, it was an adventure, and it will grow back in due course. It always does.

Given my mood, I thought that I would struggle during class, but it turned out to lift my spirits a great deal. We laughed over the difference between eating cereal — i.e. one single piece — and cerais, i.e. plural pieces. I had said the former, and when the teacher explained the difference, I joked (in English, alas), “Well I have to keep my figure somehow!” As always, the ability to laugh at one’s mistakes is paramount in learning a language, and I was glad to find that I was still able to do so yesterday.

I found it slightly harder to laugh when the teacher corrected my pronunciation for the umpteenth time. Surprisingly, my accent is not entirely one of harsh American sounds, but rather one of nasal Spanish ns and swooshing js. I find it patently unfair that I have an accent from a language I barely even speak! Granted, I did hear a lot of Spanish during those formative years from the ages of 5 until 10. But still, I don’t remember how to conjugate any of the verbs, nor could I formulate a sentence much better than I can in Portuguese. I speak French, for God’s sake! I studied it for six years, and even lived there! And yet my accent in Portuguese is predominantly a Spanish one. Go figure.

But I made it through class, and even managed to cheer up slightly after a few laughs and some good conversation, including a discussion of Portugal’s drug policy. Even so, I came home via the grocery store (without any gropings this time, thank you!) and immediately poured myself a glass of wine — for the sake of therapy, of course.

Some days, that’s all you can do, and hope the next one is better. So far, only happy emails have arrived, so we’re definitely on track for improvement.

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