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On becoming invisible

While I was writing the last scene of my novel, I became invisible for about a week. Here's how it all started. A friend invited me to a play, can't remember the name, but it was something we had both taught. We arrived at the theater in Philly, and everyone in the lobby was using sign language. A guy was talking away to me in sign language. He may have been a bachelor with a yacht proposing marriage, but all I saw was hands making signs. I noticed the play bills at one point, poked my friend, and said, "You didn't tell me this was theater for the deaf. How is this going to work?"

"Oh," she said, and we looked for another play. Nope, nothing but a ballet. We had time, a restaurant was nearby, so we decided on a snack. Her order was promptly delivered. I've been waiting about ten years for what I ordered. Hence, the beginning of my invisibility.

The theater experience was awesome. The play was presented on two parts of the stage, one in sign language, the other with speech. No applause, we learned, only hands in air. That was amazing. During the intermission, we chatted as part of a very quiet audience and realized that people around us were watching our hands. Both of us were talking with our hands but not using sign language. God only knew what our hands were saying to people who read hands. It made me wonder if deaf people are often invisible too. It made me realize what a gift hearing and speaking is.

And invisible I was for the rest of the week, and I'm not just talking about those automated paper towel dispensers or the faucets that are supposed to sense you're there. I stood in lines, waiting, and when I finally reached the front of the line, the clerk would leave for dinner, for lunch, for a meeting. Whatever. I stood there, looking around, seriously wondering about my invisibility. The good news is that my invisibility ended when I finished writing the book although I still have trouble with those automated paper towel dispensers and faucets.

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