Yo No Sé Que Hablar — I Don’t Know What To Say

The man sitting behind me at the restaurant last month was speaking Spanish.

So was the park worker the other day, which was a surprise.

There was the couple wearing “Great Aloha Run” shirts, asking each other about rain, parece que va a llover. Their accents were wonderfully soft, elongated, melodic and tripping. Dominican, I think, like my friend Carolina’s.

When I lived in LA, hearing Spanish was a given. It was everywhere– on buses, at the bank, on signs and on my radio in the car. Even though I lacked fluency when I moved there, it was omnipresent.

Now, living in a state with under 10% of a Latino population (a huge increase from before), hearing Spanish is a rare treat, something that immediately makes my ears perk up. I remember each time like a small gem, holding it close as a reminder of home.


I love living in Hawai‘i– I really do. People see me and know I’m part Filipina, which almost never happened before. It’s an exciting rush– “yes! You see this part of me! You get me!”

Like I’m sure lots of mixed kids deal with, though, I always have a hard time trying to navigate both cultures. I love living here and being seen as Filipina, but now I miss part of my Latina culture. I miss speaking Spanish with people. I miss hearing mariachi on the radio when I would scroll through channels. I spent all of McFarland U.S.A crying. Not just crying, really, but sobbing. From the quince scene on, I was a mess. The hand-painted signs selling aguas de fruta and the casual mix of Spanglish made my heart ache for something that I still don’t know how to fill. Continue reading

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