Yesterday I attended a Deaf gathering at a Starbucks located a few towns to the south of me. It’s a monthly event but I haven’t gone for several months due to other obligation or to pain, so it was nice to go again. Since driving tends to aggravate my pain, and to save gas and have time to chat, I carpooled with my friend from school, Breezy. As always, we had a great chat during the hour drive to and from the gathering, about God and life in general.
We went early for the event and parted ways to meet other friends for dinner, then joined up again at Starbucks. I had dinner with a school friend from my first year in the interpreting program. She also has Fibromyalgia and is a Christian and the two of us leaned on each other a lot in order to get through that year of school. Her young daughters joined us for dinner and we had a lovely time.
Events like that are hard on me physically, but I always enjoy chatting with old friends and making new friends. Getting a chance to use ASL in casual, real-life situations is invaluable, too. I got to meet a couple of students who are entering the interpreting program this year. They seem nice. One of them was very observant and asked me if I was okay (I wasn’t ;-) ) and if I needed to sit down.
He had on a t-shirt that said “Got Candy?” Breezy and I laughed that I needed one like that because I’m infamous for the amount of candy I eat (hey, I can’t do or eat anything else, so why not enjoy my lollies?). They were rolling their eyes at the fact that I stay thin no matter what I eat and he said something about switching bodies. Breezy’s like, “Oh no! No way I’m switching bodies with Amy! Nuh uh!” LOL
Later another interpreter I haven’t seen for a while came in and I discovered that she also has Fibromyalgia. I think she is a Christian, also. She and I had chatted a little in the past, but we really hit it off that night. It’s always fun to find someone who can really understand what we’re going through.
As the night wore on and my pain climbed to more severe levels, a Deaf friend was kind enough to give me a gentle back rub, which helped, some. I think I want to see if I can get my insurance to cover some massage treatments for me.
Leave-taking always takes a long time in the Deaf Community, and as I was making my rounds saying good bye and giving hugs, I thought about how much more freely many of those in the Deaf Community casually offer a platonic “I love you” along with the goodbye hugs and waves. Perhaps some of it has to do with the fact that ASL can so easily incorporate the classic “I love you” sign into a good-bye wave, but I suspect it is even more because of how highly Deaf people cherish friendship and communication--some of them have had so little of either, especially in the past.
I’ve always been one to liberal with hugs and “love ya”s for my female friends, but occasionally in the hearing community I’ve gotten funny reactions--anything from a startled “oh, um, yeah” to “Ohhh, you’re so sweet! You know, people don’t say that often enough--we just assume they know it and we don’t bother taking the time to actually say it.”
But whether we say it, or show it, or both, I’m sure thankful for the love and care of my friends. I’ll definitely be needing a lot of it as I start the challenge of school in a week.
I see friends shaking hands, sayin’, “How do you do?”
They’re really sayin’, “I love you.”
...And I think to myself, what a wonderful world.
from “What a Wonderful World” by George Douglas and George David Weiss