“Rejected in so many instances by parents with whom they cannot communicate, united by their struggle with a world that is seldom understanding of them, they have formed inviolable bonds of love of a kind that are rare in hearing culture. At the National Association of the Deaf, they are unmistakable. Disconcerting though it may sound, it is impossible, here, not to wish you were Deaf. I had known that Deaf culture existed, but I had not guessed how heady it is.” Andrew Solomon, Far from the Tree (book)
As I stood at the airport waiting for my brother Dominic to land, everything from this summer, any frets or stress I was feeling, started to melt away and eventually left me. He stepped off the plane wearing his "DEAF AND LOUD," shirt proudly. You see, my siblings... my biological siblings and I have been through a lot. I have such an overwhelming love and respect for my younger siblings. My brother Dominic is one of the bravest, most kind and beautiful people I have ever met. At 15, he has already mastered a sincere patience and confidence that takes some adults years to achieve. Since the four of us didn’t grow up under the same roof, it makes weekends such as this last one even more special.
I love being a big sister. I love everything about it. I love mentoring, I love making food and providing for my siblings in ways I don’t even realize that I’m giving. Nothing has been more fulfilling in my life than my relationship with them. But what I love most of all, is how they teach and mentor me.
We fell into sign immediately. I was so distracted by my joy and quick change in language, that we walked all the way to the end of the airport before realizing we went in the wrong direction. Oops.
Any nervousness that I had before, about posting or developing this blog was thrown out the window. Dominic has his own vlogs and what I discovered these past couple days is, he is unashamedly the king of selfies. Perhaps this is partly his age but I also have to think a large part of it is his deafness and his amazing ability to express himself. Most everything he does is visual, he values it and sees the world differently than I do as a hearing person.
First on our list of stops was the Mattress Factory. I have been to this museum a few times for different parties and events but I actually never had the opportunity to see their permanent collection. I figured this would be the perfect activity for Dominic considering the museum is very visual and interactive.
Artist, James Turrell's work takes up the entire second floor. It requires that one walks into a short maze of darkness before finding the end piece. Even after looking at the map, I found myself a little scared to walk forward, grabbing Dominic’s arm as he walked me into the room. With his heightened sense of sight, he immediately picked up on the light of the pieces and instinctively knew where to go. It was like one of those trust exercises where you fall and your partner has to catch you. I usually prefer to be the trailblazer, but in that moment, I defaulted to my little brother’s lead.
There are openings happening all throughout the city this summer for the Pittsburgh Biennial. The Mattress Factory is preparing for its opening on September 12th. In the meantime, they have left the floors of the museum open so that visitors can meet with the artists while they prepare their installations. We ran into one artist while at work, John Peña.
The arts are such an integral part of who I am. I had some much needed fun sharing them with my family during their visit. Dominic teaches me to challenge myself, to continually learn new things, to keep an open mind and to just let loose.