I got sushi after work today, before driving back home.
My day shifted into Monday with a force last night, a crisis coming right as I crawled into bed and then taking me awhile to settle back down. Nathan was sweet to me, getting the kids up and ready and to school this morning, with me barely out of the shower in time to kiss them all goodbye. I got off to work right away, even staying focused between peeps to get extra paperwork done. Treatment plans and discharges either have to be done proactively while being productive, or else too late at night to be helpful, or else they steal hours away from my children and I resent them. I am glad they are done, and glad to have a good start to my week.
Whatever did I do with all my time before so many children? Scenes flash before me as I drive through Tulsa today, remembering playtime at the parks and walks at the river with Neitzsche and afternoons with books in the sunshine and hours of writing anywhere I could.
My words were stolen last year, ripped out of me the way you rip off a bandaid.
That’s what’s left, though: shiny new skin on my healed up soul.
I am glad Spring is here, and I am glad my days are filled with dirty diapers and baby socks that clog the washer and dishes that are never finished.
I am learning new things, and storing up new words, all for becoming more me.
I don’t look back, and I am not in a grieving place, but I am aware of the distance that is now between me and those early days of moving to Tulsa. My favorite sushi place doesn’t sell my favorite roll anymore, and why does the place smell like peanut butter?
Because it’s been five years, that’s why.
And every time the light turns red, I eat another piece of sushi.
I am going to adopt a son, a little hearing boy. Can a Deaf girl adopt a hearing boy? I am surprised at my feelings about this. Five can sign many random words, and almost always understands me, but he doesn’t initiate whole sentences in sign, and I know it is because I am still overcompensating. Code-switching is a mess at our house, and I think we might need help.
My sushi has mango and eel sauce in it.
I work four jobs. Some of it is counseling, and some of it is writing. I work one place full time just with kids and families, mostly, and another place a few hours on Mondays to do marriage counseling. Keeping it mixed up helps prevent burnout. My writing work comes and goes as essays find their way out of me, research gets organized, and pieces get picked for publication. I also review grants for the government, but that’s so nerdy no one ever mentions it. My work gives me lots of opportunities to do public speaking, which is ironic considering the bionic ears.
One of the jobs came right as I was having a show down about interpreters with the local hospital where I was working, and it seemed like a dream come true. I got the new job, really believed in the company, and worked like a maniac for them, every day of the week.
Then one day my boss accidentally sent me a text, about me, that was intended for another admin. It was about how difficult I was to deal with because of the deaf piece, and asking the admin to deal with me from now on. It broke my heart.
It happened right as I was getting ready to be baptized, so I think its purpose was to help me not worry about not working on Sundays anymore.
But it popped a bubble for me somehow, and I lost my innocence about the workplace necessarily being a safe place.
Looking back, I know that as a child, school was always my safe place. It was where I functioned well, did things right, and got praised. When I ran out of years in school, I think I unconsciously expected work to be a safe place, too.
I didn’t ask anymore questions after that.
That’s when I started researching cochlear implants, too.
I am glad for the timing of things, so that when I was having to just buck up and just be an employee, and not special, I was also coming into the church and so inheriting a thousand gazabillion parents and grandparents who weren’t allowed to give up on me. I needed that, then. Still.
Work was never the same after that. I gave my best, but not so much of me. It saved my life and provided miracles, but I stopped pretending I belonged there. I surely don’t work as much as I used to since getting married, and now with the kids.
I found other ways and places to give other pieces of me, to diversify, to spread out my talents, and to try and contribute something to the world. I think that’s why getting my articles published mattered so much to me, even when they were so simple for translation into other languages. Because being Deaf, cochlear implants or not, doesn’t matter when you are just writing.
I think, for a time, I got tired of the fight.
And realizing you can’t change the world, or thinking you failed to do so, felt a lot like letting a lot of people down.
Except maybe I still can, even if it’s only me changing me.
I think I eat sushi just for the masago, which seems silly since caviar is still delicious without the whiskey, if you pick the right caviar.
It was my doctor, saying it would be good for me, who instructed me to drink wine with dinner. It was my therapist who poured my first ever drink. What kind of world is it where that could even happen?
So it’s been five years, you see, since I had any kind of alcohol. Not a sip. Not after four surgeries. Not after the cancer scare. Not after either of my parents died. Not after miscarriages. I am impressed by this not because I was dependent on it before, but because it was a way to numb without running away.
That’s the big news: I didn’t run away, not for five whole years.
I didn’t run away during the very hardest years of all.
I think that’s why I loved ballroom dancing, because it flew me away from everything without getting into any trouble. I didn’t have to be perfect at it. It wasn’t about earning approval. It wasn’t about trying to conform into belonging. I could just be me, and fly. I like flying, and I love ballroom dancing, even if I am terrible at it.
Nathan found us a new ballroom studio near where we live, and I am so excited. He’s good to me, you know. Kind and good and faithful and patient and funny as anything. He often makes me laugh until my face hurt, and many times I am laughing with tears rolling down my face. He is so very funny, and I adore him.
Him and his fancypants musicals.
A writer. I married a writer. A writer who understands why I am parked down the street at the church, only a block from home, just because words are finally coming. A writer who doesn’t just endure hours of essays being born, but who knows the process and nourishes me with words and devours them with me.
I do love him, and we are happy.
He is part of what makes five years worth it, and I wouldn’t change a thing.
Except maybe me, who is still unfolding, and still learning, and still becoming.
That’s the other piece that makes the last five years worth it: just me. My very human, very evolving, very mess of a self. It is me becoming me, with the rough spots wearing off and the worn spots strengthened and the list of promises yet to claim.
This is me now, after having learned life isn’t just sunshine and roses, but still loving them just the same.
This is me now, at a crossroads, in a new Spring, happy in my little world with Nathan, ready to see what life is about to bring.
And by life bringing to me, I mean me bringing to the world, even if just my tiny corner.
And that’s the gospel truth.
I really meant for the edamame to be for Nathan, but that’s before I had to stop for gas in Skiatook.