In learning a language, there comes a time when things sort of fall into place and you find yourself finally able to communicate what you want to communicate. Actually, I believe there are several levels of these “ah-ha!” moments, the first of which is the most difficult to achieve, but also the most rewarding once you have achieved it. However, though it is a happy place to be, it is not entirely satisfactory because it leaves you always wanting more. You are easily frustrated when you don’t know a specific word, even if you are now able to explain your way around it. You don’t want to wait until next week to learn how to form a gerund because you want to be able to use it now. Also, you really begin to notice the lack of meaningful conversation in your life because, though you are intelligent enough to think about complex problems or have complex feelings, you cannot yet express them to other people. It can therefore often be a lonely place, with much time spent within the depths of your own mind and heart. You find yourself increasingly grateful to speak your native language, but not with just anyone. Speaking to family and friends and lovers is a relief, so much so that speaking with strangers in your mother tongue feels completely wrong– a thing to be avoided, even– as if it were a secret language, available only to you and yours, which “they” aren’t supposed to know. Perhaps it is completely irrational to feel this way, and perhaps it makes all the sense in the world. At any rate, it makes you grateful for whatever outlet you have, which in my case happens to be this journal. And knowing that so many of my family and friends actually read these musings of mine is comforting in a way that I could never be able to adequately describe. I am grateful also to live in an age where communication is easy, immediate, and inexpensive, and grateful all the more to have such loving and loyal family and friends. Every day I feel the physical distance between us expanding, yet every day I hold each of you closer and closer to my heart.