“Yes, Addy?” Maria’s hands were covered in flour, she was making biscuits and was too nice to kick me out.
“Do you think in Spanish?” I was nine and had recently become one of Maria’s biggest fans. She called me her “compañ ero de poco” or “little side kick.”
“Sometimes.” Maria always answered my silly questions.
“When?” I was intrigued.
“If I upset.” Maria kneaded the dough with her short stubby fingers.
“I always think in English.” I frowned.
“Because it is your only language, silly girl!” Maria laughed heartily.
Mama came into the kitchen and poured herself a glass of lemonade. “Smells wonderful, Maria!”
“Thank you.” Maria said with a nod.
“Want to go for a walk, Addy?” Mama extended her hand in my direction and I gladly took it.
“Adios, Maria!” I dramatically rolled my “R’s” and headed out into the afternoon sun with Mama.
We walked silently, our hands swinging between us. Mama had a pleasant smirk fixed across her face, and I felt like singing. Have you ever been happy with no idea why? That is how I felt. My heart was smiling almost as big as my mouth was. I saw the giant oak tree up ahead and took off running. Father tied an old tire up with rope, and I loved swinging in it. “Push me?”
“Of course.” Mama slipped her shoes off and ran toward me. We wasted the afternoon together. Smiling, swinging, sweating, and singing.
“Mama, do you think I’ll ever fall in love?”
“Of course you will. You’ll find the most handsome man and he’ll love you more than anything.” Mama sounded so sure of it. “He’ll take good care of you.”
“How will I know who he is?” I hoped there was an easy way.
“You won’t. You’ll feel it though. When you look at him, you’ll melt. You’ll smile for no reason. You’ll want to be around him every second of every day. You’ll get butterflies in your stomach.” She made is sound so wonderful. “You’ll just know.”
“Does Daddy give you butterflies?” I could see in Father’s eyes how much he loved her. She looked down and didn’t answer for awhile. I imagined that she was thinking about how wonderful her husband was. Maybe she was even feeling butterflies right then just thinking about him.
“Sometimes.” Mama stood up and held her hand out. “Let’s go get washed up for supper.”
“Did you know that Maria thinks in Spanish sometimes?” I asked Father at the dinner table.
Father laughed enthusiastically before shushing me. “Don’t say that too loud.”
“Oh, she knows I know! She told me.” My eyes were wide with innocence, not understanding what he meant. “Maria!”
“Honey, she’s busy.” Mama had been talking to Anna and did not hear my conversation with Father.
“Yes?” Maria pushed through the swinging door to the dining room, wiping her hands on a dish towel.
“Don’t you think in Spanish?”
Maria looked embarrassed and Father shot me a look. “Si, senorita.” Maria smiled through the redness that was rising in her cheeks. We all laughed and after she headed back into the kitchen Father found a gentle way to explain that I shouldn’t talk so openly about the things that people tell me in private. It made sense.
“Addy, the bottom line is that you shouldn’t pick on Maria.” Mama warned.
“I’m not picking on her. I wish I could think in Spanish.”
“You can.” Father still seemed amused by my fascination. “Close your eyes.” I did as I was told, not knowing how he would magically make me think in Spanish. “Count to ten in Spanish, but do it in your head.” I squeezed my eyes tight and began. Uno, dos, tres, cuatro, cinco… “You’re doing it!”
“How can you tell?” I was confused.
“Your fingers.” The whole table erupted in laughter and I realized that my hands were spread in front of my face.
“You’re crazy!” Anna giggled.
“I know.” I laughed, proud of that fact that I could think in another language.