I have a project…well, I have several projects but two are at the top of my list right now — learning to speak Spanish and learning to sing classical Spanish music.
It all really started with the idea that I might like to take a trip to Spain this summer for my personal “summer camp” experience. I’ve gone to adult “summer camp” often to further my singing skills. As part of my process of listening to the call, however, I didn’t go last year — I was trying to break a very important cycle. And that worked.
But this year, after watching a series of documentaries on some cable channel, I decided that I simply had to visit Al-Andalus. And after that decision, I got a notice about a Spanish song festival in Granada. It was perfect: only a week long, low pressure, but a chance to learn to sing in Spanish, work with both guitarists and pianists, visit the Alhambra, and all in a fairly low pressure environment.
Those of you who know me, can you believe, that in all my travelling over the world, I have never been to Spain? Sometimes I put things off. And there is usually a reason. Can’t wait to see what this reason was.
You see, if you don’t know me personally, I am one of those people who tops 300 when I take the “Cities I have Visited” quiz on Facebook. But never Spain. And, while I have carefully studied French, Italian and German, I have systematically avoided even a cursory review of the Spanish language.
I must say that I am actually excited about this trip. Can’t help it; love learning new things and I’m pretty excited to see a new place. And in typical Susan fashion, I have spent the past few weeks studying my destination and I have just started to study my new language. And, as usual, with studying, comes new knowledge and a strong connection to the many things that I have forgotten or put aside.
That’s right, put aside. For you see, as I started working my way through this wonderful book, Speak the Culture, Spain: Be Fluent inSpanish Life and Culture by Andrew Whitaker, and went through my Rick Steve’s guides trying to pick hotels, more than learn, I remembered: I remembered that I grew up in a city that is the sister city of Seville (there is actually an Avenidad de Kansas City in Seville), that I spent my early adulthood in a neighborhood in Kansas City that is a miniature copy of the City of Seville (the Country Club Plaza), that much of my undergraduate and graduate programs in history centered on the cultures of Al-Andalus, and that the geneology of my paternal family line is as possibly Spanish as it is French (the original spelling of our name was apparently Xavier, not Sevier). Add to that, that both of the most moving mystical texts in my life derive from Spanish origin (it is technically San Juan de la Cruz, NOT St. John of the Cross), and I’ve spent the past few weeks drawing a lot of connections to past times.
This is always both a little frightening and very, very exciting. But I can’t wait to see what comes next.
So, as I do every morning, I’m going to get dressed, leash up my puppy, clip on my Ipod Shuffle, and head out to the park to work on my Spanish, a language, like German before it, that I swore that I would never learn. Later I’ll write about how that one worked out, but today I’m simply going to focus on “Me gusta cantar.”