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I am four years old. I am sitting in the sunroom which was the playroom in our house in Vermont. My mother’s family are in town. They are helping us to load up the U-Haul to move to Massachusetts. I do not know that we are moving to another state. The voices throughout the house, I cannot hear far but only near while mom and her family are hollering at each other moving heavy furniture. I look out the front door, it swings back and forth fast. I see the driveway is filled with several vehicles, U-Haul truck, Mohawk flooring company truck delivering carpets to our warehouse, and one of dad’s helpers driving the fork lift to load up the warehouse with carpets. I hear the rumbles of the Flooring truck and the fork lift.
My father is saying goodbye to my brother and I because he is not coming to Massachusetts with us. At the time, my parents are being separated while he needs to stay to run the flooring business. (This was the day I realized my parents weren’t together. My heart was heavy while my tears dripped down my cheeks so fast.)
After a few hours’ drive to Massachusetts, we are pulling in our rental house. I am walking in, seeing a duplex house that I have never seen this style before. I am not very keen of the idea to split the house with someone. It is strange, my mind says. The Vermont small town girl in a white cottage style surrounded by flowers and ocean nearby. Wow. I am rubbing my hands on the blue carpet in my bedroom thinking about my dad and comprehending what is going on. I keep hearing the family moving the furniture up and down as this house has four levels. Sometimes an inaudible language when my hearing aids and profound hearing loss could not be reached in a distance that I politely stared and studied the emotions and body languages. My eyes, heart and senses are the tools to grasp this hearing world at this age that I soon develop on my own.
Shortly, my brother and I are at our new school. It is tough being a new kid for my brother being in Fourth grade and not tough for me because I am starting Kindergarten with other new classmates. One morning while we are waiting for the bell to ring to start school, I am playing outside in large open fields with giant trees around the perimeters. I see my brother being in middle of the circle of the boys. I would say the bullies. I am so excited to see my brother being at a same school as me! I am watching him and the bullies realizing the body languages of theirs are very unkind. They are teasing him. He is being distraught. I am feeling angry and wanting to protect my brother, I grab my tin metal lunch box and run up to the bullies whacking them with it! Your welcome. My brother is telling me to stop because he did not want me to get in trouble and it was embarrassing him at the same time. Again, soon after that moment, I hit them with my backpack after school dismissal. My father is visiting us at school to pick us up, he is smiling and sighing thinking “How cute”, “Here we go again” and “No more”. This is an example of sister love and protection. All along, it does not faze me that I need to protect myself because I am very different from others. Not knowing that my life will be difficult ahead.
Eventually, my hearing impairment is becoming visible to the hearing community by wearing this hideous two FM systems (it looks like two Walkman tape players and two cords with a waist band to hold them) Welcome 90s technology! Then I am being diagnosed with a lazy eye leading me to wear purple bluish glasses and eye patch. My favorite uncle from Los Angeles is visiting us at our school after school one day, he looks at me being shocked seeing me wearing the FM system, glasses and eye patch. He is thinking, “What else does she need?!”. He still greets me with unconditional love!
It is Friday, my mother is out in the hallway talking to my teacher of the deaf while the kids scurry out to the front door being released. I love my mama being there while I am playing with my brother. However, I see a beautiful Italian girl with short hair and bangs drinking water out of the water fountain. Her hearing aids appears! I am running up to her so fast! Grabbing her hair and dragging her back down to my mother and teacher of the deaf! I am jumping with joy shouting that she has hearing aids just like mine and close to my age! She is a year older. My mother calms me down and comforts this girl, her name is Ally. They all are laughing. I am lucky that she forgives me and opens her heart to me that immediately we are becoming best friends since this day. Our languages are widened that we are chatting away.
Already, we are having play dates every weekend, sleepovers, and play together at our school at every recess. She and I meet each other at our Teacher of the Deaf’s classroom. It is sea green and touches of aqua color walls. There is a large window that you can see our mysterious fields outside. There is a table for us, storage cabinets containing our languages books and games for speech, a desk for our teacher of the deaf and her sister is her aide while there is a sink. I am being fascinated with the sink being in our small classroom! However, we are doing our speech therapy together. My teacher of the deaf is being frustrated at me for not pronouncing it correctly while she is praising Ally for excelling at the pronunciation. I am feeling bad. She takes Ally back to her classroom while I stay in her quiet classroom pondering this moment. I climb up the stool over the sink counter looking at myself and move my mouth pronouncing the words. She returns and catches me practicing, she praises me.
Throughout few years at Cove Elementary school, we continued to match our clothes and bows, met each other in the bathroom during classes to chat and play, attended at our speech therapy lessons together (or even pretend our FM systems wasn’t working just to see each other there- hey!Just a few times! ;) and played outside. We would go swimming at her house at their swimming pool, and at the time, we did not have waterproof hearing aid devices back then. So we played Marco and Polo game- instead of yelling out the words “Marco” and “Polo”, we splashed at each other to signal those words since we cannot hear. Ally and I have secret codes that we still uses to this day!
She got her first cochlear implant a month before me out in Boston when she was a sophomore at high school while I got mine during my freshman year a month after her surgery. We wrote letters and got on AIM- AOL instant messaging telling each other our cochlear implant experiences the things we like and dislike about it.
So fast forward to future, Ally and I remain being best friends since I was four years old even when I moved to Arizona when I was ten years old and she moved out to California during her high school years. I became a mother, soon a single mother to a hearing daughter (she visited and played with Makayla a couple of trips even out in famous 120 degrees swimming with her while I was at cosmetology school during the day!) and she eventually found the love of her life and got married that I went to her wedding in Pasadena, California and at 11 at night, I drove back to Arizona across the desert to go back to my preschool hearing impaired program job in the morning with one hour and half of sleep! Whenever I needed help with questions whether technology, social media, my daughter’s homework, cochlear implants trouble shooting or updates, she texts me right away! Even, she got her second cochlear implant on the other ear last fall, we touch in based with our new upgrades the Cochlear N6 processors and the cool invisible technology devices listening to music and other things.