It’s funny; I’m finding that I still don’t want to talk.
If you were to ask our good friend, Larry Einhorn, he’d probably tell you different. Yesterday, he met me at the Santa Monica pier in his 36-year old, mint-shape condition, red convertible.
Thanks Larry for lunch!
He treated me to a delicious lunch at a swank Santa Monica restaurant, and I talked a mile a minute as I answered his many questions. And yes, it felt a little odd to talk after having been silent for so long.
Don’t get me wrong; I don’t want to mislead you. I did TALK to my husband, mom, and sister on the phone now and then. But that was it.
So why now do I still want to “play” deaf?
I don’t know.
Maybe because I’m still processing the last month. Maybe because I still feel my new friends with me. Maybe because I’m still treasuring this past month in my heart and examining it in private.
That seems to be the root of it. To talk to “strangers” right now just seems too personal, too intrusive. Though I did help a young kid with his luggage while he got his boarding pass that he hadn’t realized he needed to get before checking in. And I did ask a lady to watch my backpack while I got a coffee…but this was all done with gesture. And smiles. Smiles really do go a long way in ANY language.
So, here I am in LAX waiting to board my plane in about 20-minutes, and I just now saw the bird beak for twenty (please accept my apologies, my non-speaking friends, if that was an offensive description. But that’s exactly how I experienced it; I thought 20 and saw in my mind’s eye my thumb and index finger come together twice.)
Where was I? About to board the plane. When I land in Pittsburgh this evening (visiting my sister for her daughter and my only niece’s high school graduation : ), I realize that it will then be time to talk.
How to describe this to you all?
It’s not unlike returning from Germany or France after going there to study their language. I didn’t want to stop speaking or thinking in either (both really) language. Then too I noticed myself “hanging” on to their customs, their special ways of being. Right now I want to wave my hand in the air to get someone’s attention. Not say “Excuse me,” or “Hello,” but wave or touch. My new friends touch each other a lot. I like that. There’s a CONNECTION in the non-speaking community. Touch is so visceral and really pulls you into the moment.
And maybe that’s the heart of all this. I found myself being even more “present” as I sat or walked and watched them sign, or later when I actually participated more in the conversation.
Non-speaking people aren’t perfect. They’re human like all the rest of us. But we can learn how to make more eye contact by emulating their style of communication. Next time you chat with a friend, howsabout trying to stop texting and look up into their eyes. ;-) It’s something our grandparents (or not) used to do.
And oh, one last thing, I promise. Yesterday as we approached the SM pier, there was a near accident with a biker and ASL walker. The guy was calling out to move. “Move! Move!” He shouted out. It happened too quick for me to react and warn the walker. But you know what? Once he realized that the person was deaf, he immediately changed his tone. His true nature kicked in, and it was KIND. Truly and authentically KIND.
Now that’s something to write home about!
Hugs to you all.
-Sj out with a wave and a smile.
*Featured image courtesy of Countryman & McDaniel