The Most Favorite Thing in the World
Someone once asked me, what is your most favorite thing in the world? My response, in terms of what? Anything.
The company of others, I answer.
I love being around people I adore, especially those who understand me, laugh at my dry humor, know how I comprehend words and love me back. You might be thinking I rather be around big groups of people, or maybe even little groups, but that’s really not the case. I love being with one person at a time, maybe two, and not when I’m driving or doing things to distract me from them, such as cooking or cleaning. If I hang out with a friend, I offer something to drink or eat, we sit and we talk. The reason for that is because of my hearing impairment.
You see, I read lips (for the most part), and when I’m in social situations such as a party, dinner or a discussion in class, I get lost. Really lost. Oftentimes, more than one person is talking, looking in other directions (and not at me), there’ll be a lot of background noise, and if I am following, the first word I miss puts me out of the conversation. My husband and my close friends will know this once they start hearing me softly asking, “what? wait what?” It’s just habit for me to beg for clarification, but then I’ll just forget about it and not let it penetrate that part deep inside of me where once hit I’ll cry over my disadvantage.
Once at an Irish bar in Downtown Portland, a family friend asked my husband if I was upset. Only because I was not verbally participating within the group. Instead of explaining my situation my husband just said I was sick. I don’t blame him. While it isn’t hard to explain how I absorb sound, it hard to open up the doors to other’s brain and show them what it is like to be partially deaf. Most folks would just nod in shame like they did something wrong. They don’t know how to react.
And even if I went back to my roots, and busted out the hands to sign, it wouldn’t make a difference because I have never surrounded myself with other deaf or hard of hearing folks. It’s not that I didn’t want to, but because when I was 5 years old, I wanted to go to the same school as my brother, a school that did not cater to the deaf. My mother fought with the school district because she saw it as a cry for wanting to be “normal,” but really, I just wanted to be closer to my brother. Sometimes I call that moment in my life a big mistake, and other times I don’t. Not only did I rarely see my brother (he was in the 5th grade while I was in the 1st), but he was only there for one year before moving onto middle school. In addition to that disappointment, I spent grades 1 to 9 completely lost (I was home schooled then placed in smaller classes during my last two years of high school). Almost every day, I was removed from class for about 1 hour to work with a speech therapist or this lady (I don’t even know what her job title was), who worked with me one-on-one as if I was in class, except they used materials beneath my grade level and gave me shit half the time in helpless situations. That removal caused me to miss out on class, and whatever I didn’t miss, I wasn’t getting. The worst part, I didn’t know I could read lips yet.
So I lost my ability to sign over years of learning how to communicate like the hearing, and once I learned that I could read lips, I began to excel it further. However, it’s not the best method when hanging around a bunch of friends. Luckily, I can still do other things that allows me to enjoy life, such as go to the movies (Regal offer captioned glasses), and take classes with a real-time captioner (bless their hearts for becoming captioners). Regardless, I cannot express any more than I already have of how much I love being around people. That someone who asked me what was my most favorite thing in the world, responded with:
That’s the best answer I’ve ever heard.
It’s both the time being spent with that person, and the (unfixed) time afterwards where you randomly think about that one time you hung out with your friend. You don’t look at your dirty shoes and think in bliss about the day you bought them when they were squeaky clean and unworn. Material things don’t generate the same memories that the company of others generate, and not only do those memories become rewarding, but from there you cannot wait to see that person again.
That being said, I love finding ways to see my friends despite my busy schedule and theirs. My husband's birthday is coming up in 3 weeks, and throughout that, I will attempt to test not one but four different gluten free cake recipes. To be honest, as a former pastry chef, I believe gluten-free and cake should not be in the same sentence, but I hope to be proved wrong this time because I really want to make a cake for the guy. Unfortunately, cake often consists of sugar, eggs, dairy and sometimes chocolate. My reintroduction of those things will not be completed until the day of my husband's birthday. So, I must rely on my friends to test these cakes! Don't worry, they volunteered!
One of the cakes call for buttermilk, and I really wanted to make a rosemary infused cake with some mascarpone and preserves, but in order to infuse rosemary, you've gotta heat it up with some sort of liquid. Well, heating up buttermilk comes with very minimal success since it has low fat content and a high chance of separating thus becoming unreliable. So instead of jeopardizing the recipe by using milk (and not knowing how the cake will turn out to begin with), I placed a bunch of rosemary stalks in a jar and mashed it before pouring in the buttermilk. This particular cake will not have to be made until Friday (or next Tuesday) so hopefully in that time, the rosemary oils will tint the buttermilk. Hopefully.