When I was in college, I had to take a foreign language for 4 semesters to graduate. I felt that I was pretty French-ed out from high school, and I had always wanted to learn American Sign Language (ASL), so I enrolled.
On my first night, I already knew the alphabet and how to say “my name is”, but that was about it. Thankfully, I really took to the language. It was very easy for me to learn. I also had a completely awesome teacher. He was just so clear and easy to imitate.
I had a few opportunities to use my signing skills. I did a bit of tutoring for other students. I dabbled in interpreting at my church at the time (TERRIFYING). My ASL instructor was in the audience during my first shot at interpreting, which I thought I had completely bombed. He described my interpreting compared to the other interpreting something like this: a radio that was playing static got tuned to the right station, and suddenly everything becomes clear (how a deaf person can whip out an awesome analogy like that, i didn’t think to ask!).
I love ASL. I am also terrified of it. I have the same fear of ASL that I have had of everything in my life: that although I am good? I am just not good enough. I have wanted to become an interpreter, a teacher, ANYTHING to let me use ASL more in my life. I think in ASL while I am driving to try to remember words. I haven’t signed with another human being since… maybe 2003.
Until tonight. I saw two women signing in the produce section at the grocery store. I couldn’t help it. I caught one of them as she was leaving the produce section and asked point blank if there was a sign language group of any kind in the area. Then the woman she had been chatting with, who turned out to be her (deaf) ASL instructor, came over and told us that there is a deaf coffee chat on the second monday of every month.
My heart leaped! The ASL instructor wanted to know where I learned ASL, if I lived in the area, and that kind of stuff – and probably the second thing she said to me was:
Your sign is good!
My sign is good. I wanted to cry. I am so happy right now. I have spent the last hour talking to Mr. Thor about sign language, teaching him some fun signs, and just reminiscing about how great my own ASL instructor was.
At the end of the night, Mr. Thor just looked at me and said, “You’re a really cool person.”