Monday, April 16, 2012
Fina'kuentos #4: Annai i tiempo ti tiempo-mu...
For example, my two kids, Sumahi and Akli'e' get along most of the time. Sumahi is the captain of the ship, while her younger brother Akli'e' is like the Chamorro Brown Steward. He isn't really the first mate because Sumahi doesn't trust him to take charge if she's taigue. Neither does he man any weapons or hold any real responsibility because Sumahi doesn't trust him to do much of anything. So instead he just sits in the galley of the ship, peeling potatoes and washing pots and pans. Because Akli'e' looks up to Sumahi so much this works out fine for the time being; as he develops more and more of his own personality, I suspect there will be some personality conflicts.
One thing that they do fight over regularly, as most kids do I'm sure, is the possessing of things. In theory the toys on the floor belong to everyone. Akli'e' can play with the Barbie doll, Sumahi can play with the screaming monkey doll, all the toys belong to everyone. Naturally the kids feel ownership over certain toys, because of perceptions of which toy belongs to which gender, and also feelings that I own this because I got it for Christmas or a birthday, but in general in our house we are supposed to share toys.
When I say possessing of things I'm not referring to this sort of pre-given assertion of ownership. Instead what I mean is the desiring of possessing something primarily because you don't have it, but someone else does. One of my favorite moments in all of the many millions of moments that the show The Simpons has created over the years is when Bart has a crush on someone, but doesn't know what to do. He turns to Lisa who tells him that he only really wants that girl because she is with Milhouse, and the fact that he doesn't possess her, makes her all the more alluring. Bart demands that she illustrate her point using objects in the room. She uses Maggie who is waiting in her crib playing with a toy. Lisa grabs a toy that she isn't paying any attention to. Once Lisa has taken it Maggie jumps up trying to get the toy for herself. Lisa tries to explain to Bart that Maggie only wants this toy because someone has taken it, but Bart has also jumped up and is trying to take the toy away from Lisa.
My kids are often like this. A toy that is lying on the ground isn't very interesting. If it was interesting, someone would be playing with it. But the least interesting toy in the world can someone achieve an aura of being the greatest, if someone is playing with it.
In Chamorro there is a saying for describing this, and I've been trying to get Sumahi to remember and say it, but the phrase is long and very abstract.
"Annai i tiempo ti tiempo-mu, taya' oras sipirao. Lao annai esta i tiempo-mu esta ti dimasaio."
Or as I like to say it:
"Annai i tiempo ti tiempo-mu, taya' oras sipirao. Lao annai esta i tiempo-mu esta pumara dimasiao."
It translates to: When the time at hand, isn't your time, every moment is connected to the next (or time drags on so slowly). But when your time arrives, it just doesn't feel urgent anymore.
I use this for my kids when they are so desperate and eager to get something, but then quickly lose interest once they have it. In truth however, the phrase originates as something you use not for object, but for love. It is something that you are supposed to say to someone who, like Bart, has a terrible, debilitating crush.
This was a saying that Chamorros would use to soothe the heartache of a friend who was so terribly in love with someone, who they probably knew very little about, and had perhaps only once or twice exchanged looked. In earlier times, both under the US and under the Spanish, sexuality was very tightly restrained and monitored. Young women and men couldn't interact with each other socially. Dating did not exist. The only members of the opposite sex that you could hang out freely with, were the ones you were closely related to. Anyone else was considered off limits, and most of the time, the only contact you could have is needy glances from across the pews at church or notes secreted back and forth across the village from helpful chule'guagua' or "cupids."
Without being able to talk to your crush, your newfound love, every moment really does feel connected and time drags on as your mind mulls over what she must be doing, what is she thinking about, could she be thinking about you, could she love you, and feel the same as you? When you are that smitten, it can feel as if there is no room to breathe. The thoughts of your love and the possibilities, both positive and negative can overwhelm you. Time drags on as you anticipate when you will see your potential love next. You have Broadway shows full of dialogues between yourself and your love, all without her probably evening knowing or realizing it.
But when you eventually, actually speak to the object of your desire, things usually start to cool down. The ideal that you created in your desire doesn't ever really match up to the person who you are actually after. That doesn't mean you don't really love them, but only that the intensity or the urgency that you sometimes feel in attraction or devotion isn't really real. It isn't part of this world, but something that you feel and hold on to only through absence. Once it is filled, the dinimasiao goes away.
But such is the nature of life. We are haunted, tormented and empowered by the sublime, but we live with the real. That is why, when the toy is not your toy it is special, it could mean everything. But once you get that toy, what is it really? What could it be? Just a toy that you have, nothing more.