It’s one of my favourite expressions. I try to “collect” good mornings as I collect I love yous. The above is “good morning,” taught to me by my Lithuanian friend Ieva, the only Lithuanian I am aware of ever having met.
This may be evidence of my desire to learn a foreign language and my embarrassment at having never done so adequately. I studied German in high school, Spanish recently, and I’ve memorized portions of French and Turkish, but it never sticks but for the key phrases.
I get such a rush when for two seconds I am mistaken for someone who speaks the language. Once at Brandeis by the Shapiro fireplace I called up the stairs to Ieva, tromping to the library amongst a group of other students. “Lavas Rytas!” Four of them came alight and spun around with big smiles and greetings all bubbling incomprehensibly at me. I recognized instantly the release of tension that imperceptibly collects and gathers around the shoulders of one visiting a foreign country, the shadows that may someday become wrinkles in those beautiful young faces suddenly vanished. Ieva saved me by making introductions in English and they returned to climbing the stairs.
Another such rush I gained in central Anatolia on a frigid day where I apparently ordered a hot cup of tea in perfect Turkish, because the man who served me casually strolled over to serve the tea and rolled off twenty syllables with a smile, while I returned only wide blinking eyes. I love Turkish. It’s the most beautiful language to me. All those syllables strung together, crisp and hard, but with soft edges so they tumble and bump together but never in a harsh way. Like marbles in molasses.
Where was I when I began this? Oh yes! Look at these lovely views, so stunning as to almost make up for my amateur camera skills. I have Mount Hood rising above the city of Portland, and Mount Adams in the sunrise (It’s a much better view from the kitchen window, but I couldn’t find a high enough spot outside to capture it.) Good Morning. Gunaydin. Bon Jour.