From fifth grade to high school, I had known a deaf girl named Jennifer. She was few years younger than me. We rode the same school bus to the elementary school.
Because many deaf people often go to public schools that were not their "base" schools, the distance was often long. Mostly, deaf students go to schools afar because of their "hearing-impaired" program. Hence, a special yellow school bus in a form of station wagon was provided to pick up the deaf students from afar.
Jennifer had a bright red hair and freckles. Although a cute girl, she had such a spunky personality, speaking out whatever came to her mind, often being tactless. As she grew older, she started to swear in practically every other sentences.
Although we also attended the same junior and high schools, we never got to be good friends due to different backgrounds and values.
Jennifer came from a broken and abusive home. She used to come to school sometimes with bruises. (I am not sure if anyone did anything to help Jennifer back then).
In high school, Jennifer had a boyfriend who was about 3-4 years older than her. More than at least three times a year, she would often run away from home with her boyfriend for few weeks at a time, then return and pick up as if nothing had happened.
Due to this problem, she was often in remedial classes although she had such great potential. The only thing she was good at was art.
She was deaf, or so at least I had thought. My then best friend, Missy, had gotten a pink slip during a class to go to the restroom. On the way, she happened to spot Jennifer at a phone booth, talking.
Puzzled, Missy came up to her and said, "Jennifer, please stop this joke and hang up the phone".
Shushing her, Jennifer continued talking. After hanging up, she replied that she was actually hard of hearing, to her surprise.
In spite of her personal problems, she would make things fun to laugh about. Although she smoked and drank, and perhaps some drugs at a later time, she never encouraged others to do the same, especially me.
For instance, a former deaf school classmate, stopped by my Taco Bell where I was working then, and invited me to attend a "party" at a motel. After his trying to convince me to come, I reluctantly agreed.
Upon showing up, I was the only one who seemed to be "overdressed" while others merely wore jeans and T-shirts, etc. Everyone seemed to be drinking hard liquor while smoking. I decided to drink only wine coolers.
When Jennifer saw me drinking wine cooler, she was quite surprised. "Nita.. you DRINK??! You are so 'straight-laced' Are you sure you want to drink??" I replied that this was only a wine cooler, not a vodka.
After I quit Taco Bell, I eventually lost touch with her. As time passed, I vaguely heard from others that she had gotten married to someone and had kids.
Then, ten years ago, I heard that she had changed and became somewhat mellow and nicer, even quitting smoking and taking up decent hobbies. At this point, she seemed to be finally content with her family, especially her daughters.
Unfortunately, I think, it came a bit too late. She died of cancer.