Communication is a strange and lovely thing.
At the moment, I am craving it. I find I crave communication less when I'm in Brisbane, where it's busier. Still, in two weeks Daniela finishes school, and this will keep me sane for the ensuing two weeks I'm stuck down in Ballina.
Because it was playing on my mind, the conversation naturally turned to communication tonight at dinner. Tata, moaning about how he wouldn't always be my favourite person in the world, prompted a sharp smack from Nana.
"But it'll happen soon!" he protested, rubbing his arm where Nana's talons had connected. "She's twenty now, vieja, and she's been away from Brisbane for two days and is already missing it."
"Ay, viejo, stop it. There are different sorts of affection," she retorted. "She loves you like a granddaughter is supposed to love a grandfather. Of course you're not going to be her favourite forever."
"And niña," she said to me, "if you miss your friends, call them. You have a phone, no?"
"I don't usually talk on the phone."
"I can talk in person." Occasionally. When I'm comfortable. When I'm not overthinking my idiocy. "I text."
She sighed, and pushed some flan towards me.
"I don't like texting," Tata announced. "I do it because you do it, nieta, but that's the only reason."
"Niña," said Nana, "what do you expect to do when a boy wants to talk to you?"
"Don't give her ideas, vieja!"
"What if he's far away?"
"I suppose I won't hear his voice for a while," I said, "not until I see him."
Nana whirled to face Tata. "Ay, amor, listen to her."
"I'm okay with what she says."
"When your Tata and I were - ¿como se llama, niña? - dating? We were far away. I wanted to hear his voice all the time."
Tata didn't reply, instead choosing to dig into his flan.
I chose to change the topic.
On the way home, I asked Tata about how he preferred to talk to Nana when they were dating.
"She lived in Concepción, and I lived in Santiago," he said. "I couldn't really call her, not often. I did. But I would write her letters."
"Did you prefer to write letters?"
"Of course not, niña," he replied. "Then again, it was easier to convince her I was brilliant that way. I wrote a lot of lies."
"Well, not lies exactly," he said, for once remembering to put his indicator on. "But you write, and you remember it differently, with more heroics in the story. Then you reread it and you realise you wrote complete bull."
"But you send it anyway?"
I asked him how they met.
"She was walking past me," he recalled. "Visiting someone, I remember, someone I knew. My friend stopped to say hi, and I met your grandmother."
"So how'd it continue, then?"
"I agreed to go dancing to impress her."
"You can't dance."
"Yes, but I was a stupid boy who did something I despise doing so I could make a girl fall in love with me."
"When did you fall in love with Nana?"
He turned to me. "The third time I looked at her."
"The third?" I clarified, wondering if he was toying with his expressions as he's so fond of doing.
"The third. I knew by the third glance."
In my family, communicating is a big thing. My Nana will steal my phone every time she sees me, flicking through the photos, demanding backstory on every person there. ("Y la Katrina? How is her job? Who is that boy? Where is this? Does this person live in Brisbane with you? How did you meet people from the Sunshine Coast?") We are loud and crazy, speaking over each other in English and Spanish and Spanglish. I am the most quiet in my family, it seems, though the loudest when I'm not overthinking. But as a result, I don't share much with them unless prompted, or unless dealing in the written word.
In comparison, the other half of my family - the farming family, my mother's family - are quiet. Conversations with Nana on the phone are rife with questions about every single thing in my life; those with Grandma, on the other hand, will inevitably start and end with the weather. One question, that is it. We don't say much; we write more, perhaps, but still with an extremely stiff upper lip, one that I'm still not used to adopting.
When I am by myself and communication is lacking, it surprises me how often my conversations with God are held aloud, and how often I'll triple my conversations with Tuscany. Those two don't judge my stumblings and meanderings; perhaps that's why I stick to texting instead, because I can edit my words far easier.
But my conversation with Tata shows me something - when you're speaking in a foreign language, the literal is beautiful. "I knew by the third glance," he said. To me, there's something absolutely gorgeous in that.
God is amazing for creating languages, for giving us that longing to be heard and to share.