Essay published in issue No.1 of KAJET Journal

Loving in any other language but yours

Lovesick before, now lovelorn, I drew a circle around me, a cocoon. I call it OB/SO. ObSo. The heartspace between solace and obsolescence, a way to get over or go deeper or go under without letting the feeling go.

From this uncomfortable place, I asked around looking for lifelines, drawing parallels between the world at large and our short lived world which opened up within me chasms.

For several weeks I checked both of our horoscopes to make sure everything’s on track. Fuck Mercury forever retrograde! It seems we go through the motions and come out on the other side with little to show for our unbinding. Just scars invisible to naked eyes.

And so I worked all summer on a book which turned into the substitute for this wound, there to say ‘it cut deep, but it healed’. Ink drying in the place of scabs, tears for ink refillers. I could have jogged instead.

The process is but over, the book nearly too, and from the inside looking out I step onto the border of the circle, brave and revived, obsorving now the love of others. Trying to uncover, in the grace of those who commit, ways of better understanding one another internationally. Interracially. Inter-lingually.

➀ You see, to love in any other language but yours should be a blessing, not a curse. Soft spoken misunderstandings. The tone of your voice resounding through auditory membranes, like bees waxing lyrical. Only on weekends, often in beds. Corrections, wrong intonation. Years and years, wish you were here. When by myself, I talk to you, still, and you speak back to me, past radio noise and distance. Latinx sensations, Brazilian heartquake, the sound of buildings cracking during Richter scale 8 events. All of Earth’s heartbreaks.

➁ To love in any other language but yours means to abstract your knowledge without diminishing the feeling. Squeezing your hand for protection. Feeling you smelling me so we get closer to a together fragrance. Cafuné, running my hand through your hair reminding you of mother. Great bodies sweating on each other, tectonically. Crying together, happy we are no longer alone. Empowered by a mere sense of togetherness. They build nations on that.

➂ To love in any other language but yours is to make up and make do with makeshift wording. Oreo. Black, but only on the outside; white, but only on the inside. A metaphor of sorts. Carcolepsy. Falling asleep at the wheel now that you’ve got no one to tell you stories. Pompsious. Tasty, pleasing to the eye, but in an over the top way; the way love looks like from the outside. Foreverboner. The one who opens up your appetite for the infinity.

➃ To love in any other language but yours means that your trust lives outside of your words. Nods of the head, curling your mouth agreeing with me, reminding you of something you had forgotten you forgot. Mnemonics of the heart. Squeezing your shoulder so you know I got your back. Music, so much in common, dancing the lone away.

➄ Loving in any other language but yours is jumping fences. An image of the east border of Flanders merging seamlessly with that of the coast of Maresias. A tattoo of a sushi wrapped in Congo palm leaves. A Turkish jewelled longsword in a Judaic shaft resembling a Mezuzah scroll. Contrasts as a way to balance it all out. The smell of Liverpool Docks in the winter, high note, mild sunrise in Hawaii and bergamot, middle, a warm Bengali bed and frozen amber, endnotes. That happened somewhere, somebody fell in love with all of that.

➅ To love in any other language but yours is to accept the wrath of Babel and make of it a house, a loving home. The awkward silence of excess apologies. Politically correct 'I love you'-s. Fusion cuisine or order in. Smiling at dawn, breakfast of champions. Nude lingerie for darker skin tones. Standing, statuesque, expecting adulation. Google translating lyrics to impress you. Amar em qualquer outra língua que não a sua.

➆ To love in any other language but yours means to be both participant and an outsider to your own affections. Meaning, but not saying. Embracing hobbies other than your own, bouncing off enthusiasm. Thinking twice before saying something which might come across offending. Wanting to please whilst staying true to self. Reminder that your ancestors travelled great distances and that their grit and will to live pushed us to have encountered. Not by chance, not a chance.

➇ To love in any other language but yours, it is no different than loving in your own tongue. Mute people love, deaf people love, we rub off of each other. It takes persistence, patience. Wars are not fought with words, that’s politics. And so to love only with words is just a power play. Steal the words away. Nobody needs that.

Sometime around the end of summer, something changed, or maybe nothing changed at all, it just finally clicked, like bag sealers, in my mindzone. Make no mistake, I’m still a lover, of course, but it hit me, like that dump truck in Ally McBeal, like Thor’s hammer, like your ex bird hitting you. It struck me that love is never just this feeling we chase like the bus we’re late for. It is about context, serene circumstance, the work that others have done before you, the work that you still need to do. It is effort and craft, it needs commitment and nuance, it needs seeing to, it needs to be seen and heard and felt and performed. In that way, it resembles art. And just like art, it sometimes drowns in language.

Illustration by Tristan Boisvert
Loving In Any Other Language