In Which We Go Over the Vocabulary of ‘Used To’


My landlady has a black binder filled with photocopies, each of which has been carefully annotated, highlighted and slipped between sheets of clear plastic. With great care, she reads out the title of one of the readings, “Christmas in Stanford.” She goes through the material they have just covered in her English class and points out a prepositional question she either did not have the courage to ask or which her instructor did not have the skills to answer. I consider it, answer with some confidence, and she asks another clarifying question. She notes down my answers and toys with a few possible arrangements of this new phrase, comparing it to Spanish grammar, enjoying the taste of the precise terminology in her mouth. I am aware, suddenly, of the horrible faultiness of my Spanish, the motor of my brain and tongue which now requires more and more coaxing to roar…

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