This is my last assignment for writing class and I have to choose a journey to write about. It can be physical, mental and emotional. I've decided to tackle both mental and emotional.
I have numerous journeys that I can write about. Humorous ones like my cruise upon the Fairstar and why it lives up to the nickname..Fairstar the fuck ship. I can write about horror journeys such as an overnight trip from Melbourne to Sydney on a bus. The whole atmosphere of crankiness that encompassed the vehicle is a horror story in itself. I can write about really sweet journeys that make me smile and blush a little, like the car trip on the way to my first day at primary school.
I've chosen to write about an extremely personal journey instead.
It's a journey that I'm still on actually. Where I'm going to end up is anybody's guess really.
I should say that it all started with a visit to my birth mother on her country property just beyond Tullamarine airport, I forget the name of the town but I do remember that it once hosted its own hippie festival many years ago, not unlike Woodstock.
It's not true though. My journey started about five years ago. It was just an ordinary day really. I was working in a pharmacy and serving a customer like usual when I suddenly realised that I couldn't understand a word that they were saying. No matter how many times I asked them to speak up, I just couldn't understand them. I really didn't need them to raise their voice to a higher level, its just that it's still a bit rude to ask people to speak clearly.
And so it went like that for the rest of the day. I went home angry that these rude arseholes that I was trying to help didn't have the brain cells to be able to speak clearly. Once home, I spouted off at the cats, mimicking the various idiots that had dared to enter my shop.
Work the next day was no better and it wasn't until morning tea that I actually sat down and thought about just why these morons were so hard to understand. And it hit me, it wasn't that they were speaking like complete wankers, it was that their voices were coming through to me as muffled waves of sound.
I just put up with it. Snapping at customers when they refused my request to speak louder. Getting other work colleagues to serve those people that naturally talked softly or couldn't raise their voices. People who slurred their words or had accents were also fobbed off.
I just didn't want to know about it and I sure as hell wasn't going to take any notice of the sneaking suspicion that was tickling the back of my mind.
I can't tell you the number of times that my various bosses 'talked' to me about my habit of not answering when called for from the storeroom over the years. 'Well, just bloody speak up and there won't be a problem will there?' was my trademark reply, one that was tinged with all the acidity that I'm well known for. Another one that I'm still famous for is 'What? What the hell did you just say?'...asked with a totally clueless look on my face, usually much to the amusement of all around me.
Over the years, I just put up with it. Even though I had once ventured to discuss the matter with my doctor when I went in for some medication for the flu. He who moonlights as Satan, laughingly told me that I was too young to worry about such things, after all I was only 22....that I just had a build up of ear wax and I was just being silly. A painful ear syringing procedure later that produced very little wax, I took both myself and my antibiotic prescription home, followed by the condescending giggles of the clinic receptionists and my soon to be dumped doctor. I honestly hadn't thought that asking for a referral to a hearing specialist was funny....silly me!
I shoved all my emerging worries to the back of my mind and steadfastly refused to acknowledge them as they continued to fester and nag at me.
During the last few years, I ignored the way that I had the stereo both at home and in my car, turned up an extra few notches than only the year before. I refused to be worried at how people had to repeat things a few times before I could understand what they were saying and I most certainly wasn't fussed about how I couldn't hear the phone ringing when I was at the far end of the shop, let alone being able to tell if it was an interstore call or an outside call because of the different ring tones.
It was only about two years ago that I went to visit my natural mother and it was only a random comment that sent my world off kilter.
Deborah, my birth mother, was telling me a story about my birth father and because I wasn't catching everything that she was describing to me, in mild frustration, I laughingly told her that she would have to face me as she spoke as I was going deaf.
She went dead quiet and sat at the kitchen table, looking down at her hands as she started to wring them together. I honestly thought that I had just totally insulted her in what must have been the worst possible way. I really didn't know how but I must have because she raised her head and looked at me. Straight in the eye.
She told me that it was highly likely that I was going deaf because her paternal side had hereditary deafness. Not only were her two half-brothers, from her father side, both chronically deaf but she was quite bad herself. Deborah only had a quarter of hearing in one ear and about fifty percent hearing in the other.
I didn't ask if anybody else in the family had the condition. I just wasn't interested in them. Anyway, I was relieved that at last I had an answer as to why I couldn't hear people talking when they faced away from me. I mean, I could but their words were such a low mumble, it wasn't even worth trying to concentrate on them.
The rest of the visit to Deborah and her husband Gary flew by with lots of laughter and good times. I drove home, light hearted in the knowledge that I could now put a reason to why I had such problems hearing. Of course, having a hearing test would have cleared things up for me as well but at that time, ignorance was still bliss.
It was only when I got home and started unpacking that I realised that I had no idea of what hereditary deafness really meant. With a skill born of many years of fobbing off customers worries, I had torpedoed all Deborah's attempts to talk of the subject.
I had a hearing test a few weeks later and the consultant confirmed that I had hearing loss in both ears that was at an unusual level for someone as young as myself.
I think it was then that the first fallout of such knowledge hit me.
That I was going to have more hearing loss over the years. It's still unknown just how much loss I will have. Will I be affected in one ear more than the other or will I have an even loss. Will I get bad enough to have a hearing aid and as I write this sentence, I have to concede that I think a hearing aid will be priced for the next year or so. I can tell that its getting a little worse.
At the moment, I often find myself at home with both the stereo and the TV on at the same time. I have no idea of why I do it but I'm wondering if its an unconscious attempt to experience all the sound that I can before my ability to enjoy it is handicapped even more. I have to fight the urge to go out and buy as many cd's as I can afford each week and just sit and listen to them all weekend, committing the songs to memory just incase its the last time that I hear that particular one or to even just hear a song the once and to be able to say that I *have* heard it before I lose the ability to do so.
I admit it, I have nightmares that I go completely deaf and am surrounded by people that just yap away at me as if I can still hear them. One of the worst ones is where I have to communicate via sign language only to be stuck in a room with people who have no arms or mouths. In this particular dream, I have no ears and we are all unable to communicate. I'm not too sure of the end of these nightmares but I think in the end, I punch a few of the people out because they piss me off. Not too sure how though, I guess that I'm just as cranky in my dreams as I am in real life.
At the moment, I think that I have come to a halt in my journey to the realm of silence. I'm content for the moment to just make fun of my dicky hearing. I'm usually the first one to snigger at what I've mistakenly heard. For example, on a recent phone call, I mistook the words "How much is your Olay Total Effects" to be "How much is your daily total sex"...needless to say, it was laughter all round once I had gotten over my shock of being asked such a question.
Even names are funny to me now and I laugh a lot at some customers names, especially the Indian, European and Asian ones. I know that its rude but the names sure as hell don't sound like they way they are written when you have background noise to muffle the pronunciation of the chemist whose calling out the name. Another classic example is the band 'Bachelor Girl', for ages I thought that it was 'Spatula Hurl'..I don't think I need to elaborate on that one.
I have a slight hope that I've reached the end of my journey but I'm due for a visit to the hearing specialist and from the past few months, the news won't be good.
I think to myself, thank God I don't have other hereditary problems such as MS...early dementia or heaven forbid, a family tendency towards breast cancer.
I don't like what my mothers faulty genes have passed onto me and in moments of pure rage about the unfairness of my family's legacy, I rant and rave about how irresponsible she was to give birth to a child with the knowledge that she was passing down a hereditary genetic fault...one that could be passed down from generation to generation for years to come.
Then I think to myself, this is a unique opportunity. Not everyone has the chance to experience what its like to have their body altering itself in such a severe way. To have their inner ear fibres go completely against their natural order and instead, create chaos for their host. I should consider myself lucky that, even if I did go completely deaf, I would still be able to hear the hum of silence in the end.
I'm only 27 and I still have one hell of a journey ahead of me.