Sunday, July 29, 2007

Nah, I must be dreamin....

At seventeen, I won a free trip contest to England sponsored by then Gallaudet College. It was a 3-1/2 week trip during summer time prior to my senior year of high school.

Excitedly, I packed at least one month before my departure. My mother took me shopping and bought me new clothes as a "present" for winning the contest.

On the day of my flight, I got up early, without anyone waking me up (I did not have an alarm clock for the deaf that time). I flew to Washington, D.C. where I, along with other 14 contestants, 10 deaf and 5 hearing, stayed at a lodge behind Gallaudet College for the first two days.

During the first two days, we got acquainted with each other, as well as with the three chaperones which one of them was an alternate interpreter. I made fast friends with some of them. The chaperones lectured on the policies, itinerary, rules, passport information, etc. We also had 'ice-breaking' activities that helped us to get to know each other.

On the third day, we all flew to London. Upon landing, we were shuttled to a YMCA where we stayed for the most of the two weeks. The food was so terrible that we eventually all paid for our food at restaurants, cafes, etc. with our own money which was later reimbursed by the chaperones with the money sponsored from Gallaudet.

During those weeks, we visited museums, the Parliament, school for the deaf, deaf clubs, some deaf/hoh individuals' homes for tea/snacks, and old churches/parks.

Finally, the next 5 days, after two weeks, our group of 15 were divided into two groups. The two groups went to different cities in England. One group went to Devon to stay at a lodge where each of them stayed with a host family for a day or two. The other group, which I was in, went to York to stay at a hostel. We were supposed to stay with host families but due to summer time, most of them were away on vacations. Instead, we each visited our host family only for few hours and then returned to the hostel.

At the hostel, I shared a room with another girl, Julie. Next to us, Doug and Josh shared a room, and so on. There was a pub (as bar is called in England) downstairs.

Most teenagers are curious about life, experimenting with things. Some of us in the group, including me, was no exception. (Doug was the only one who was 20) Some nights, Doug, Josh, me, Kate, Scott, and a Welsh girl named Kim who was visiting us, snuck into the pub to have few beers without chaperones' knowledge.

One night, around 11:30 PM, as usual, we quickly got away from the chaperones' eyes, and entered the pub. It was my first time tasting alcohol. I initially did not like the taste of beer, but then eventually adjusted to it.

Only three of us stayed longer at the pub, after some of the others left. Doug, Kate, and I chatted amicably over our drinks until about 2 am. I then decided to hit the sack, leaving Doug and Kate who were not finished with their drinks.

In the room, I slept on the bunk bed while Julie slept in the bottom one. Exhausted, I immediately discarded my clothes and quickly changed into my PJ's and then crashed.

In the morning, I felt a light flashing on my eyes. I peeked and saw one of the chaperones, Richard, at the door, talking to someone at the bottom bed. I assumed it was Julie who was talking to him and went back to sleep.

Five minutes later, I felt a little bump and opened my eyes. To my astonishment, I saw Doug getting up from the bottom bed, with nothing on but his underwear.

I quickly looked under my covers and to my relief, I had my clothes on. Racking my brain, I tried to recall if Julie was asleep last night when I came in. Actually, she was. Then I checked the room, to ensure I was in the RIGHT room. I was.

"Good Morning, Nita", Doug cheerfully greeted my stunned face, and walked out the door.

My curiousity became greater than my need for more sleep. To solve the puzzle I could not figure out, I quickly arose and went down the hall to find out what had happened.

It turned out that apparently after their drinks, probably around 3:30 am, Doug and Kate went to their respective rooms. Somehow, in the early morning, Doug who was a bit drunk, after returning from the bathroom, accidently went to my room. Seeing Julie sleeping, he mistakenly thought Julie was using his bed. Annoyed, he woke up Julie, practically dragged her out of bed, threw her out of the room, and then went to sleep.

The chaperones found Julie sleeping in the hallway.

I wasn't dreaming after all.