“You are my favorite you know. How long have I been picking you up? Since you were five…no three. and in the morning you would say, I want my mommy and I would say your mommy is still asleep. and all the cookies. We made so many cookies,” my grandma prattles through the static.
As she hangs up the phone, I can hear her telling the nurse,
“That was my granddaughter calling from Germany.”
The line cuts my mama off mid-sentence,
“Your aunt and I were talking and we think this is just the perfect time for….”
When I call back, she says,
“I thought it was my turn and I was talking and talking and then I realized you weren’t saying hmm and yes like you were supposed to. That’s very disconcerting”
My 4-year-old brother’s face appears on the screen and then disappears behind his blankie.
After he orders my dad to get his art project, he shows me his glittering feathered creation.
“The orange feather is my favorite part. It makes me feel…..good”
and then he lists off all the dinosaurs that he knows.
I listen to my father pour his first cup of coffee as I sauté onions in butter for dinner.
My grandmother gets wheeled off for lunch as I put on my pajamas.
My mother heads out and I head to bed.
My closest blood relative lives over 4200 miles from where I live and yet, through the powers of the internet and cell phones, we can still communicate. Some things are still lost in translation. Even with all the powers of modern technology, I cannot convey to a four year old that I live in a city where our ancient roman ancestors may have once lived. I cannot show my 94-year-old grandmother that I have learned some German when she has trouble following our English conversations. What we lose in translation, however, is something more than the particulars.
We all experience life through our own set of filters. We each have unique truths to share about our lives. Conveying those truths is hard enough when the experiences that reveal them are relatable. When we branch out from relatable experiences—when we emigrate, when we follow new paths, when we break social norms—the truths of our lives become buried by the strangeness of our tales.