More Than Words
(Page 2 of 4)
Adrea ran down the hall to her room. As I stooped to pick up the larger pieces, it occurred to me that I was angry with her, in dire need of my own space, desperate for solitude, and finally, that these were the feelings of a tired mother toward her trying child, her child.
A year after we’d been together, we developed a routine of going to the antique flea market on Twenty-sixth Street; it served us better than any playground. Usually, in crowds, because she cannot hear me, Adrea stays by my side. Yet somehow at the flea market, she is a boomerang. Taking off there, touching back here. I walk up and down the rows. We keep a distant eye on each other. The mother of a deaf child grows to appreciate a controlled environment.
We are well known on Sundays. There are two antique dealers who sign, and who have become like uncles. Benson is the child of deaf parents and a great storyteller. Adrea will sit cross-legged in his stall and forget all about our shopping. Benson is in his sixties. He has lived in the city his whole life. He asks Adrea, “Do you know what happened in nineteen twenty-nine?” She thinks about it a long time. He turns away, gives the history of a particular rug to a potential buyer. I watch my daughter. She believes that she knows anything if she just has enough time to remember. I love that about her. “What would possess a deaf couple to have a child the year the stock market crashed?”
Adrea frowns in misunderstanding.
“That’s the year I was born.”
Adrea smiles happily. This makes perfect sense to her; she would probably have guessed this answer. I expect her to sign the year of her birth, but she is anxious for Benson to continue with the story. She doesn’t bother with herself.
Martin is a young man with clunky hearing aids. He and Adrea spar, trading jokes, even gossip. He’s only a couple years out of the Huntington School. She catches him up on the old-timers, teachers who never change from year to year. She’s in first grade, he couldn’t be older than twenty-one. Her ties with the flea market men are stronger than mine are. They are her friends.
We have bought our rugs from Benson. We each have dressers in our bedrooms from Martin. Almost all of our furniture is from the flea market, found items, or handmade. Our square kitchen table, we painted blue-green, with flowers and turtles, stars and smiling teapots. I inscribed each side with a line from a children’s song: All I Really Need—Is A Song In My Heart—Food In My Belly—And Love In My Family.