"I regret to inform you that your child is deaf," the doctor told my parents. He went on to explain how I would never be able to get the skills necessary to function in today's society: "He won't be able to read beyond a 3rd grade level or vocally communicate." The doctor's prognosis fell on deaf ears; my parents. They weren't going to accept such a dismal future for their son. As for me, I couldn't hear anything that was being said, so I wasn't aware I had any limitations. With my parents stubbornness and my ignorance I stepped into life.
A few months before my 3rd birthday I walked into a classroom with 14 other deaf kids. We were all guinea pigs in an experimental program involving total communication. Rather than being institutionalized I was going to be mainstreamed with hearing kids in a regular school. Eleven years later, I graduated 8th grade. I was reading at college level, and I was able to speak. Needless to say, I found out that limits are an illusion.
When I was in high school I realized my parents, my teachers, and my friends who worked with me shared a common goal. They wanted me to overcome my disability, to be "normal." They succeeded. No one could tell I was deaf. I became a deaf person hiding behind a hearing facade. I was losing my identity. After 17 years of riding the bandwagon with my hearing counterparts, I jumped off, stole the horse pulling that infernal thing and rode off, the thundering hooves fading into silence.
Leaving the noise behind, I ended up at Gallaudet University in Washington D.C. with more than 2000 deaf people. It was here I realized the rich culture and pride surrounding the deaf community. I also experienced first hand the oppression that society places on deaf people. I couldn't accept this, so one night I attended a meeting about how it was time to change things. Four days later, we shut down the University and made national headlines for the Deaf Pride Movement. This was one of the best moments in my life. I helped to change the world.
I became two different people. One who was deaf, the other hearing. Which was the real me? Was I destined to be stuck between two worlds, alone? I spent the next few years searching for clues. I traveled the farthest reaches of the continent, hopped a few islands, and discovered a few countries. I became religious: Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, Taoism, whichever one seemed to be giving out the correct answers that particular day. I even took the scenic route to consult with hallucinations. Through hazy recollections, seems a tree gave me the best advice.
I eventually found myself in California where I decided to grow some roots and settle down. I met a nice girl who I thought was Ms. Right. We had 10 years together. Unfortunately I found out Ms. Right's first name was Always, and I became Mr. Never Right. We finally went our separate ways. It wasn't a complete loss, I got the best thing in my life, a beautiful daughter. I would never be alone again.
I can look back on life now and realize that I was never was alone. Everyone has some internal battle they are fighting. Granted, they weren't fighting for the same thing I was, but they all understood struggle. I can accept that I'll always be trapped between two worlds. It doesn't bother me that I don't fit in with stereotypical definitions. In the end, I will simply be me.