This little cowgirl is starting to volunteer at a local Deaf resource center. I have a high goal (as we INTJs do) to become fluent in American Sign Language (ASL). I took a year of ASL classes in college and continued learning through online resources. Today, I took a giant step and started interacting with the local Deaf community. I volunteered to assist with an Easter celebration and watched Deaf and Hard of Hearing (HOH) children run happily amok. Some Children of Deaf Adults (CODAs) attended, along with hearing parents and siblings. I was in bliss as we dyed eggs, held egg relays, saw eggs crack, tossed eggs, decorated eggs and hunted for eggs. I definitely learned the sign for eggs. ASL is like magic to me–I’m transfixed by it always. It’s a beautiful language.
Then a deaf woman began signing to me. We had a brief conversation and I understood most of it, enough to get the jist. Joy and rapture— I was learning! I was contributing to society and children hunted eggs happily around me, safe and secure. Then the sweet woman asked me a question: “Would you interpret for me and ask a question about that baby?”
I think I may have peed a little.
Overall, of course, it went alright. Earlier I had told her how I was slowly learning ASL. Oh, and I emphasized the sign for slow . I also added I was a volunteer and offered a dashing, polite smile. The smile, in body language, translated to exactly this: “Have pity on me, a poor hearing soul. By the way, do your need your car washed?”
Exaggeration aside, the day went well. In my writing I try to incorporate ASL and Deaf culture, even if just a smidgen. One day I hope to write a Deaf main character. My volunteering will help give me the knowledge and experience I need to accurately do this portrayal.
Oh and did I mention the bat? There was a bat in the building that decided to make a pre-lunch appearance. All I could think of was the sign for vampire as it fluttered about, flying back and forth in the room. I ducked next to my spouse, wondering if we would need rabies shots on Day 1 of our volunteering adventure. Luckily, I resisted signing vampire and looking like an idiot. I looked up the sign for bat safely afterwards at a coffee shop. I can’t help but think it’s cute. God bless our pollinators, great and small. We owe you a lot.
Happy writing. Get out there and explore. Experience your fodder for that next novel. Vampires and all.
Song: “Paradise,” Coldplay