My Messed Up, Bi-Lingual* Brain.



*Sometimes trilingual

They say that once you begin to dream in another language, you have become a fluent speaker.  I have been dreaming invariably in at least two languages for half my life--be it French after a year or so of study in high school, or Norwegian after five years in Norway.

My dreams in French started early.  I remember the first one, about a year into my studies--I dreamt I was in an elevator with an old woman in Paris.  I told her she was blushing. She said she was embarrassed. I do not remember the rest.

As I typed that story out, my fingers failed me.  As I went to type the "I..." in that first sentence, a sneaky "Je.." made its way into my keyboard.  Zut alors!

It has been a while since I dreamt in French (and girl please, I really do not think I was actually fluent after a year of study; I think it was just a freak dream.  It did give me a nice ego boost at the time though).  My brain, however, is constantly making silly mistakes like that typing one in everyday life.  Today on the phone with one of the managers at work: "Det er litt sånn som dette, you know, like, ..." Cute the mental "oh sh*t" and a quick correction.  In Norway, though, I can get away with slipping random English into my sentences because it's "cool" to do so.  This trend has turned into my little life saver when I forget a word or am talking too fast. (Sadly not in today's conversation...my "you know, like" made absolutely no sense ha).

The same does not go for English.  I am always made painfully aware of this fact when I go back to the U.S. on vacation.  Great example: while visiting my best friend in Los Angeles, I was trying to tell her about a message from my boyfriend: "He skrived..."  It wasn't until I saw her looking at me with questioning eyes and a raised brow that I realized that I had used a bastardization of the Norwegian "skrive" instead of saying "wrote."  We had a good laugh.

My point in all of these random linguistic anecdotes?  Sometimes, when one straddles two or more cultures and languages at a time, one gets a bit lost in the labyrinth.  These words all have meaning to me, but not necessarily the person I'm speaking to.  Often, other expat friends and I just use a Norwegian word if we forget the English one at the time.  In America, no one knows what I am talking about, and people start to think I am losing my command of the English language (and maybe I kind of am, along with my mind).

The same goes for cultural identification--personal ideals, morals, etc.  Parts of me feel wholly Norwegian, and struggles to recognize myself in the American psyche.  Other parts of me, however, feel right at home in America.  Sometimes this conflict fuels an existential breakdown; others, it mostly makes me feel lucky to have not one, but two homes.  And in a way, not one, but two identities that somewhere meet in the middle to form one existence.

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