This morning it dawned on me that I could alter my daily routine and make time to have lunch on the corner with the bike repair crowd in our neighbourhood. The weeks are counting down until we take a hiatus in Canada for a few months, and recently I’ve been feeling more and more like I haven’t spent enough time with people. I had lunch with Mr. Lù and Mr. Zhāng today, and when the river freezes they’re gonna teach me how to ice fish! They’ll be more people there tomorrow.
The don’t call it a language “barrier” for no reason, and one of the mistakes I made — maybe ‘mistake’ is too strong a word — in our first year of language study was spending probably too much time trying to talk with neighbours. When your language is that limited, it just isn’t that helpful language-wise to spend a whole afternoon with one group of people, all of whom have zero English. You can only say and hear so much, and then things just get more awkward and frustrating. (During the first year Jessica did less talking and more book study, and now she’s kicking my butt in Mandarin.) But now that we’re over a year and half into language study there’s a lot more we can do. It’s a little frustrating that right when we start to feel like we’re getting somewhere in the language and could actually really start getting to know the neighbours, we’re returning to Canada for a few months.
But there are — believe it or not — things in life that are more important than learning Chinese, and we’re looking forward to lots of hugs and good times with them while we’re in North America!