There is one tense I did not learn about until I was in the Peace Corps, though: the Present Obvious.
The Gabonese are masters of the Present Obvious. If, for example, I was sitting on my duffel bag at a crossroads, a daypack on my back, clearly waiting for a bush taxi, the comment I would most often hear from passers-by was, "Madame, vous voyagez." [Madame, you're going on a trip.] Why yes, kind of you to notice. If I was drinking a Coke while I waited, I might also hear, "Madame, vous avez un Coca." [Madame, you have a Coke.] True. If it was raining, guess what? Someone would probably feel the need to add, "Madame, il pluet." [Madame, it's raining.]
I didn't realize until I had toddlers that the Present Obvious is the preferred tense for the two-year-old set, too.
"Mama! Mama! Big truck! I see big truck!"
"This Maddie's duckie."
"Paul put gas in MaddieRiley car."
"Ba holding Riley's hand."
"Maddie drinking agua."
"This pink cup."
"Riley working." [as he bangs on the fence with a water bottle]
The Present Obvious does not lend itself well to conversation; once the obvious has been stated, there's not much left to say. Of course, with the twins, I validate what they've said and try to ask a follow-up question (What color is the big truck? What is your duckie's name? etc.) But it's interesting to me how the twins love to comment on their world, and how everything they see is worthy of making a comment on. Part of it is that this is their level of language right now—we're just not yet to the point of having philosophical discussions. But it's also related to what they find interesting and what they notice, often things that to me are totally unremarkable and even boring.
I went to the movies with Gio last night; we saw Sex and the City. It was wonderful and perfect, over two hours of total fluff and complete escapism. My dinner consisted of hot pretzels with cheese, Raisinets, and Diet Coke. I laughed and cried.
I absolutely love going to the movies. I'm one of those people who gets completely sucked in by the experience. I truly forget where I am and become a part of the action on the big screen. It's one of the few times in my life when I'm totally in the moment. I never see what's coming next, I only see what's there, right in front of me at that very second.
John got a total kick out of this. When we watched the movie "Miracle" together, about the U.S. hockey team's defeat of the Soviet Union at the 1980 Lake Placid Olympics, I was a wreck in the last few minutes of the game. I was gripping John's arm and could barely look at the screen. "Goose," John said, "you know who wins!" True, but in the moment, I was giving no thought to what was coming next.
This total absorption makes movie-watching very exciting for me, and it's what makes going to the movies feel like the ultimate indulgence. When I'm at the movies, no part of my brain is thinking about the laundry or other chores. I'm not worried about the fact that I have not been exercising enough or that I yelled at the twins over nothing or that I feel sad. The movies are a total escape from reality, and going to the theater is the thing I miss most about my pre-child life. John and I went to the movies a lot, once a week on average. It was our thing, our way to get away.
The timing on movies is tricky. Showtimes are usually around 7:00 p.m. and around 9:00 p.m. To be at a 7:00 movie, I have to have have a babysitter who feels comfortable putting the twins to bed. If I go to a 9:00 show, there is every chance that I will fall asleep before the movie is over. So I haven't made it to the movies much since Maddie and Riley were born. But as they get older, it gets easier for someone else to put them to bed. I'm thinking that I need to get out to the movies more often, maybe once a month. Gio and I saw the preview for Mamma Mia last night—that might have to be my next big escape.