But we both speak English

1972bugEven when two people speak the same language there can be incredible misunderstandings, especially when both individuals were not raised in the same culture.

As a person who studied art most of my adult life I was certain that I had an eye for spaces and shapes and usually I could look at an object and determine if it would fit into a certain space or not. Sometimes I had to work at making things fit, for the short duration of the drive home from a store in the Volkswagen Super Beetle with a large bean bag and round metal frame seriously wedged behind me, or the rug that was sticking out of the window, but was mostly in the car; the most crammed experience of all, the white flocked Christmas tree, a baby in his infant seat and his five year old sister both in the passenger seat as I drove slowly and carefully down the Central Expressway from Mountain View to Sunnyvale in California.

Street parking in San Francisco is always difficult – worse on that hill known as Jones Street, where we were invited to a party one evening when our daughter was still a baby. As my husband pulled up to a small space between two cars, I should have said, This car is too large for the size of that space. Instead, I said, You’ll never get this car into that space, which he immediately interpreted as a challenge and in a heartbeat backed into and latched onto the bumper of the car at the far end of the space.

Dumbfounded, I didn’t even breathe. Then he said, Take the baby and go upstairs (a six flight walk up) and send someone down to help me. Which I was very quick to get out of the car and do.

Some years after our divorce he said to me, … I think we had a communication problem. Ya think?


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