My eyes got watery, on the verge of tears, as I sat there, stone-faced, willing myself to not succumb at that moment to what I was feeling. Frustration? Loneliness? Isolation.
All of it.
And I felt stuck, having realized too late that THIS was not going to work. I tried to appear as though I were listening intently to the readers I couldn't see.
Oh, everyone is chuckling. I'll chuckle, too.
Oh, everyone is clapping. It must be over. I'll clap, too. For a different reason.
I'm working hard here but my gaze inevitably travels, and with it, my attention. I study the covers of books on the shelves around me. I stare into space. My fingers itches to open a book, to pick up a pen, to do anything but sit here and pretend I fit in. I feel paralyzed. It would be rude to just get up and leave with no explanation. And I'm certainly not about to put my hand up and request that we all sit facing each other. I'm loathe to invite pity of any kind.
So, I sit and bear it, willing myself through an hour and half of hearing, but not understanding.
Am I glaring? I hope not.
I don't begrudge any of these people the privilege of hearing. I just want the same privilege. I look down in my lap, and look up again, hoping that my expression is friendlier. But I feel my face harden, almost grimacing.
For god's sake, are we done yet?
Finally, I get the cue that we are wrapping up. I put on my coat, and wait until it seems that it's finally, finally over, then I bolt for the door, saying goodbye to no one, and knowing I'll never come back. Because, anyway, as I was sitting there feeling sorry for myself and drowning in my internal monologue, I realized that I don't want this kind of workshop anyway, where we write for twenty minutes, spend an hour and half listening to people read, then get critiqued on something written off the cuff. It's absurd, if you ask me.
So, that solves that problem. I have a legitimate, non-deafie excuse to never do that again, and have saved myself the trouble of sticking my neck out, of being the one that asks everyone else to change, to uproot, to adjust, to adapt. In this world, that's my burden.