Inspired by this video-
The steam from my cup of tea tastes like her breath. I don’t want to think about it, but I pull it in across my lips, it is melodramatic and I’m absurd but, here I am. “But ghosts aren’t so warm.” I know. I know so let’s not talk about it. Of course, she’d say that. I wanted to roll my eyes. “Go ahead, roll your eyes. You never did appreciate poetry.” I like poetry, not the poetry she liked. I stand up and walk to the window, I hate Winter.
The steam from the tea makes a little foggy spot, the glass squeaks as a heart is drawn in it. I smile, her signature heart with the lopsided top. “Hearts for my heart.” I finish my tea and stop procrastinating. The brush of her is cold against my cheek and I wave her away, no time for cuddles. I sit down at my computer and after a few minutes my first student logs on, she is grinning and signing a mile a minute.
My student is eager for the assignment, I’ve asked her to watch a concert with an ASL interpreter and to transcribe what she can and then we’ll discuss it. While we watch, she’s so exited she forgets her notes, she signs along, tosses her braids and her brown face is an image of pure joy. I sat back to watch and joined in after two songs. By the last set we were both up out of our chairs, dancing, twerking and laughing.
“That was so fun. Do they have that at concerts for real?” My student tilted her head and leaned to her left. She looked like she was trying to look around me, I signed. “What’s wrong?” Her gaze was fixed on something over my shoulder, I was afraid to turn around. Over my shoulder is the window in my office, her gaze had weight and I shivered. “Hey?” I waved until she shuddered and turned her attention back to me.
I don’t make a habit of getting personal with my students. I teach them to sign, I teach them more effective ways to read lips and communicate with the hearing, I tell them nothing about my personal life. I claim I do it for safety but, to be so perceived by anyone scares me. My student shifts and lifts her hands, then puts them back in her lap and blinks at me. “Yes? Are you okay hon?”
She rolls her lips together and nods, shakes her head then nods again. “Can I tell you something? Please don’t judge me.” I nod, I’m hoping she doesn’t suddenly hate me or want to cancel her classes. She doesn’t look at me as she tells me, “I um, so I can see a lady in your apartment. Your girlfriend and she said, you only hate winter cause she’s not here. And she loves you.” I watch her look at me from the corner of her eye, I wait until she looks at me fully.
“Thank you. I miss her. Do you want to continue?” My student goggles at me, starts to sign, puts her hands down, hands up, down, then she just stares at me. “I understand. Some people have gifts, I’m not afraid of you.” The relief moves through her so fast, I watch her relax, her fingers uncurl and the smile on her face is so big her eyes squint closed.
“Thank you, thank you. Thank you for seeing me.” As we continue, I decide that this student will know me, and I her. Maybe, it is my time to give up living with ghosts and be perceived, to move beyond winter. The steam from my cup of tea tastes like her breath. I don’t want to think about it, but I pull it in across my lips, it is melodramatic and I’m absurd but, here I am. “But ghosts aren’t so warm.” I know. I know. I know.