As a Deaf person, growing up deaf also means being part of a Deaf World. It means going to Deaf gatherings and events, going to class reunions just to catch up on old classmates and learn who married whom. It means when you meet another Deaf person for the first time, you often ask, "Which school did you go to?" Doesn't so much apply nowadays for the younger generation with more schools offering mainstream programs, but for the older set of Deaf people it still comes as a standard, as common as "How are you?"
I married a Hearing man and before me, he had not had much contact with a Deaf person before. We became friends at work and talked and he finally asked me out. When the relationship got serious, I laid down some issues on the table: I come from a Deaf family and you'll need to learn sign; if we have children there is a 50/50 chance they might be deaf because it is hereditary for me; you need to accept having closed caption on the TV ALL THE TIME and if it isn't captioned, I don't want to watch it (sounds trivial but I have heard of hearing people not liking CC on TVs); get used to the deaf equipment-- TTYs, phone lights, doorbell lights, etc... If he didn't want to deal with and accept any of those things that come with me, the door was right over there and he was free to walk out. He choose to stay with me.
Some might say I was being silly for doing that, but I wanted to go into my marriage with open eyes and wanted to make sure that HIS eyes were open, too. I wanted him to know what he was getting himself into and to know that my Deaf world was different from what he was used to. I took him to Rock Festival at Gally a month before we got married and it was funny to see his reaction to all the flying fingers and even though the music was loud, he commented on how quiet it was. It sort of opened my eyes too, to see my Deaf world through his eyes, to see his observations and hear his comments on things I never took notice of.
Fast forward a few years and I found myself too busy to keep up with my Deaf world-- work, kids, activities and family dominated my life and I just didn't have the time to go to any Homecomings or expos or sports. I didn't think I was missing anything and frankly, did not miss it at all. Then a month ago, I heard something happened in my Deaf world and I didn't know about it until a week or two later. A friend suggested I check out RidorLive.com and the links there would help me figure out what happened. Little did I know, that going to that website would open the floodgates to my forgotten Deaf world. I discovered DeafRead, YouTube, and a multitude of other Deaf V/Bloggers and I discovered that I MISS my world. My husband noticed I was spending a lot of time on the computer surfing all the Deaf websites and showing him this and that and finding old classmates and finding my parents' old classmates, too. I made a decision, then, to never leave my Deaf world for so long, ever again.
I didn't realize that I missed being among my Deaf peers. I have no regrets in my life and I make an effort to appreciate what I have and not dwell on what I don't. I have enjoyed my "break" and now it is time for me to take a step back into the world I left behind and bring my family with me and show them who I am. My husband knows who I am, but my children have yet to go to any Deaf event and be surrounded with flying fingers, to see the beauty that our hands can create. Look out Deaf world, I'm back!