Learning how to love en español as a gringa has sometimes left me sin palabras. Cultural norms and philosophies aside, our language simply does not have the nuances del amor que el español tiene. In English, there is only love—which, arguably, is beautiful in itself. You love him, you love warm winds, you love the way your friend laughs at something goddamn hilarious, you love the way the lyrics explain your moment, you love spliffs in the morning, you love seeing sunset colors you can’t explain. They’re all different kinds of love, you don’t love any one of those things the same as you love another, but they are all love just the same. It’s—for lack of a better word—lovely that all of these sentiments can be easily explained by the same root. But how one loves a dog, compared to how one loves the smell of rain in New York City in the summertime, or to how a woman loves a man who gives, supports, and loves without expectation of anything de vuelta, cannot be justly explained in one word. Mientras en español, claro que se puede describir, y en muchas formas. Agradecidamente, aun estoy aprendiendo. Pero no es tan fácil, ni explicar. To explain to a monolingual gringa friend what it means when a man evolves from saying “te quiero” to “te amo”, the profound magic of that moment, the feelings que florecen en ti cuando vez a los espe-ojos que te dicen esas palabras tan fuertes, ese sentimiento que nunca puedes olvidar, is completely lost in translation. But I’m grateful to have the understanding. And I wouldn’t si no fuera por él.
Despite the wealth of emotional knowledge I now have gracias a la linguística, I’ve found myself caught in a love that thrives in its silence—every moment, which collectively must have been hours, spent simply looking into each other’s eyes, silently caressing each other’s face, body, sin hablar, was what made the magic blossom so strongly entre nosotros. The messages I received by looking at his cheeks; the improvised, wordless lyrics that flew through my mind mientras contemplaba his star-kissed lips, the way I could watch su ser entero change through time and space, past and future, just by watching his face in one present moment of a sunset—all those lessons would have been lost if someone’s phonemes chose to drown them out. Pero paradoxically, there was not enough that was said. This love deserves songs, poetry, art, music, verbal expression—but it thrives in divine, golden silence.