Sometimes I read in books that silence is deafening. The pressure you feel in your ears, your head, as you strain to hear something, anything, to no avail.
You panic, your heart beats faster, you frantically wonder if maybe you've gone deaf. But that's not what being deaf is like.
Being deaf, especially born deaf, is seeing your best friend laughing hysterically but not getting the joke yourself, no matter how many times it's explained.
It's a one man show, where the only thing you can ever hear are your own thoughts,
and sometimes they're more cruel than the wads of paper with obscenities scrawled on them thrown at your head every day in class.
Being deaf is solitude and loneliness, but also intelligence and wisdom. When you've never had something, you don't miss it.
But you do ache for the carefree laughter of those who can get the joke faster than you, because they don't have to read lips or hands.
You ache for the whispers in the dark that your friends in sleepovers are surely sharing. You ache for the sounds of life that everyone around you takes for granted. Being deaf isn't normal.
It isn't romantic. It's a loss, and a lesson, and something I wouldn't wish on anyone else.
'Are you sure you don't need anything else?' My mother signed to me, 17 years of having a deaf daughter making the hand movements second nature.
I nod to my mother, assuring her that my first day of school will be just fine. This is the second school I've transferred to since I started high school and I'm barely a junior.
The other schools I went to were too small, not diverse enough; they didn't know how to handle a girl who needed to stare intently at your mouth and hands to 'hear' you.
They thought it was creepy, and often times I would have ugly notes written on my desk or spiral when I wasn't looking, mocking the 'retard'.
I had a couple friends throughout all my transfers and moves, but as time has passed those bonds have weakened as well. I guess I'm used to it.
I've learned to like being alone, and I've learned to enjoy everything around me as best as I can.
Bees surround me
within the lush grass.
Flowers of neon
sprout from the ground,
rebirth through eons
I've always loved nature. No one can hear it so I don't feel like I'm missing anything.
My parents built a gazebo for me, with grape vines twirling through the crossed openings, giving me a makeshift roof.
I loved staying there in the evening, when the fireflies would come out and the sky turned brilliant shades of purple, pink, and dark blue.
When it was about to rain, clouds would roll in and I would watch them through tiny openings in the vines. Soft gray puffs muffling the bright mixtures of colors.
I loved the smell of rain in the air. It smelled refreshing and the humidity was comforting and snug.
I can't hear the pitter patter of rain that I read about in books but I can imagine how soothing it sounds. The feeling of the rain on my skin is relaxing enough, so I don't mind.
Lulling tones whispered through the vines, reaching my ears as I dozed off under the vine. A storm was approaching, I could smell it, but I was fascinated by this sound I heard.
The first sound I have heard my entire life and how wonderful it is! It was rich and strong but soft like a rose petal.
Wonderingly, I squinted through the vines, trying to pinpoint where the music was coming from. Before I could step out of the gazebo the raindrops began to fall.
They were fat drops, swollen with musical notes and splashes of color. For every drop that fell, a stream of notes burst into the air and strings of colors followed.
The colors dripped and leaked over everything, splashing my white gazebo with every color of the rainbow.
The grass, my house, the trees, everything drowned in the colors these raindrops released.
The music tinkled through the air, louder and firmer in places where the raindrops pooled and whisked away where the raindrops sunk into wood or grass.
An explosion of color and the most beautiful music I had literally ever heard. Tears of wonder trickled down my cheeks.
I hummed to the music, engaged with the tune, in love with the painted world around me.
It was unusual, that was for sure, and I wanted to ask my parents to see if they could see what I was seeing and hear what I was hearing.
Calling (more like sobbing) my mother’s name, she walked outside, looking at me curiously. Realizing I was crying, she quickly became alarmed, and asked me what was wrong.
Not wanting to sound crazy, I merely said I loved the way the colors of the world had changed with the rain. Confused, she agreed and looked at me strangely.
She can't see it, I thought. Which means she can't hear it either....
Feeling satisfied that there was nothing actually the matter with me, my mother went back inside and I lied back down on the ground under my makeshift canopy.
Colored rain had snuck its way through the vines, leaving splashes of color on the grass and my clothes. The music kept the same tune, blessing me with beautiful harmony.
Not wanting to miss any of this wonderful experience but feeling suddenly tired, I drifted off to sleep among the softening paint rain, dreaming of symphonies and harps and lovely lilting tunes.
The next morning, my parents were unusually bright eyed. They weren't usually morning people, so seeing them so excited was off-putting.
'We spoke with an ear specialist last night,' my father signed. 'He says there's a treatment that can fix the problem with your ears!'
Father was grinning widely, and his excitement gave me the impression that if he had a tail it would be wagging fiercely.
With tears in her eyes my mother stared at me intently, trying to get a read of what I was feeling. I was excited of course. But not as much as I probably should have been.
After what happened in the rain yesterday, I wasn't sure I wanted to give up being deaf, because then what if I lost the chance to witness that again?
It was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen, and heard, and I'm sure my mother would have agreed if she had been able to hear it.
But she wasn't able to, and I couldn't help but think it was because she could already hear normally. I wasn't sure I wanted to lose that.
Whatever it was, it chose me, and I was sure that fixing my ears would take it away from me.
'Can I think about it?' I signed back to my father
His smile tilted downwards ever so slightly and my mother looked at me in surprise.
They knew how much I had wanted to be able to hear like everyone else, and the grief I’ve gone through my whole life dealing with the people who couldn't deal with my differences.
But I needed to know if I was going to lose the symphony, and if I was, if it was worth it.
'That's fine,' my mother replied. 'It will take us some time to raise the right amount of money anyways.
' Smiling at me, my parents understood I wanted to think about it first and I felt a weight on my heart begin to settle.
Were the brief moments of extravagant beauty when it rained worth giving up a future of hearing everything in the world?
Weeks passed and I ached to hear the beautiful music again, see the way the leaves soaked up the colors of the thick rain. Finally, on a Saturday night, I heard it.
Soft but quick paced, a melody eased its way through my window crack and into my room. Gasping, I ran out into the backyard, searching the sky for the colors to pour down.
It was late, and my parents were asleep so I wasn't worried about them. But it was also very dark outside, and I was worried I wouldn't be able to see the rain paint the world around me again.
The music, different than before, sounded urgent but melancholy, like it had bad news to give me, and it needed to be told soon.
Sitting down in the grass, next to the gazebo but not under it, I listened for the music, ready for whatever it had to say.
The rain began to fall, but instead of the colors the rainbow, it rained white and pale yellow, bright against the night sky and the dark world around me,
and looking almost like the stars themselves had melted into the rain.
This paint was thinner, but slower, it gooped from the leaves and vines, and made little mounds wherever it landed before running off to the side.
I gathered some of it in my palm, enthralled by the differences this time.
The goop didn't feel slimy or weird like I expected it to, it felt smooth like snake scales and smelled metallic like polished jewelery.
Letting it ooze from my hand and onto the ground, I sat beneath the gazebo, a little more sheltered so as to not be covered in the star paint.
The music came from the wind this time around, the gentle breeze confessing its fears through music and tones.
Deep and thick, the notes seemed to swell and explode, releasing bitter beautiful notes.
I can't leave this. The stars and rain will miss me, the music will have no one to sing with.
Realizing that the message the music wanted to give me was its fear of my loss, I was content making my decision. The music I hear far outstrips anything I might hear in the real world.
It's beautiful, and wonderful, and nothing can convince me to give it up for anything.
My heart beat in rhythm with the raindrops, the melted stars tracing the grass and reaching for the ground from the tops of the trees and vines.
The music continued its melody, pleading me to stay, whispering its desire to sing for me once again, and forever.