No Need To Panic

One of the most frustrating things about learning a new language is the inability to express the correct emotion. During my half marathon for example, there was a desperate moment where I needed a bathroom.
“Hay un baño?” I asked a bit frantically*. But no one seemed to understand that this was no conversation piece. They shrugged their shoulders casually.
“No, there’s no bathroom on the race.” Asking again, I tried to look panicked to express how important a toilet was. But the response remained nonchalant.
“Well, there might be one in the bar just down the road, but I doubt its open.” In Spain, a bit of pessimism is normal. It’s also sensible to have a little doubt as to whether a place is open. Nevertheless, I took the detour to the bar and barely acknowledged the staff as I went into the restroom. When I got back to the course one of the race volunteers finally seemed to understand that I hadn’t simply wanted a tinkle break. He asked me if I was alright and if I needed an ambulance.
“No, I don’t need an ambulance. I want to keep trying.” I looked around and took a deep breath. I can do this. I can keep going. I was only at 8k out of 21k. I couldn’t stop there. So with a quick smile and a dose of determination I made my way.
At 19k, I experienced the same situation but opposite. I had just made it to the top of a big hill and I had to pause at the intersection for the policeman to stop the cars for me. My body giving out is a different post, however it did. I knew at that moment my legs weren’t going to take me any further, even if it was only 2k. Now there was nothing that needed immediate medical attention, I just couldn’t run anymore. The policeman saw my look of defeat and came over.
“Are you ok?” I shook my head.
“I can’t finish.” It was everything I could do to keep from crying.
“I’m getting the ambulance,” the policeman decided. 
“No, I’m not sick,” I repeated, “I just can’t finish.” But no matter how much I tried to downplay the situation the policeman didn’t understand. I finally got him to agree with me, and he let me just wait for the van that marks the end of the race to pick me up and take me to the finish line.
Even now as I look back, I am confounded by my inability to communicate a sense of emergency when I needed a bathroom and a sense of simple defeat,  but non urgency, when I couldn’t finish. In studying a foreign language, I learn words and expressions, but I never thought that I would have to relearn emotional communication. I still do not know what I could have done differently to express the correct emotion. At least I made interesting friends along the way and I have a story to tell about the time I tried to run half marathon in Spain.
* For practicality,  all dialogue is in English. But everything happened in Spanish.


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