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Friday, May 29, 2009

Of Desks and Dreams

                                                            In January of 1993, I was just  beginning my second semester  in college.  As a 19 year old student, I was full of dreams and promise.  I was so eager to conquer the future.  To do that, I need a computer.  It was my first ever computer.  For this  computer, I needed a very special desk.  That's how it all started.

            My desk was  beautiful dark woo with a pull out keyboard tray, several drawers and shelves, a cabinet and a hutch above it all.  I also got a matching filing cabinet for my  laser printer.  It was a set up worthy of a queen and it was all mine.

            That desk was like my home.  It's  where I spent most of my time.  It's where I  read text books for class, wrote papers, worked out math problem and studied for tests.  It's where I discovered the online world of email and internet friends.  It's where I  created colorful clip art, played Solitaire and other games, and  selected the coolest screen savers.

            On that computer, sitting at that desk, I met  my first boy friend on a Star Trek bulletin board.  He later became my husband, the father of my child, my abuser and now my ex-husband.  I had no idea what was to come.  But it began while I was sitting in that  desk chair.

            My desk was big and it was heavy.  We moved it into my first apartment... and second... and third... and fourth...  and then into my house.  My husband hated moving that desk.    After moving it into the house, he  growled to me, "I am never moving that damn thing again!"  I believed him.

            That desk took me through college, field experience and student teaching.  White-out stains marked  the hard work I put in while trying to create art work for  my students.  I have never been able to draw well.  Those blobs of white always made me smile.  It reminded me of good times.

            I used that computer to fill out job applications and write my resume.  I sat at that desk while writing lesson plans for my first teaching job.  It's where I wrote thank you cards for wedding and baby gifts.  My dreams were coming true and the desk was  somehow always part of it.

            Then illness struck.  I  could not see well enough to read my computer screen.  I could no longer  manage  to read my mail, pay bills and write checks.  I couldn't  talk to my family and friends on my computer.  I left the desk.  I retreated to another place.  The desk was still there but it was no longer for me.  It became buried under piles of my husband's stuff.   Papers, junk, dirt and dust.  That was all that  was left of my dreams.

            It was all confirmed one horrible day in 2002.  With no warning and without asking me first, my husband got rid  of my beloved desk.  He knocked off the hutch and smashed it in half.  He tore  out the drawers and cabinet door.  He hauled it away and threw it into a landfill.

            Gone... gone.  My vision was gone.  My hearing was gone.  Now my desk was gone too.  It became a symbol for my despair.  The loss of that desk was proof that my life and dreams were over.

            Time has passed and things are different now.  i'm no longer married to the man who was so cruel and heartless to me.  I live in another state.  I'm in a place that is free from abuse, pain and suffering.  Everything is changing now.

            Earlier this year, I received a new computer.  This is my first computer in eight years.  It's  not the same as the one I used to have.  I no longer read by looking at a monitor.  My fingers do the work for me as I touch the dots on a braille display.  This isn't how I envisioned my future.  But I've come to realize that doesn't matter.  It's still my life and I  can create a new future.  I just need to do things a little differently.

            A new computer  needs a new desk.  There it is.  It's not the same as my old desk,  either.  Still, I've got my drawers, shelves and  two cabinets this time.   There's a hutch and another row of shelves just below.  The computer  monitor  stays off.  The mouse is  pushed out of the way and I don't keep a mouse pad out on the desk.  The keyboard tray is empty.  My braille display and key board stay out on the desk top.  It drives me crazy because it takes up so much space.  I can't find a way to change that so I just try to deal with it.

            All those shelves... It's something I've wanted for so long.  I didn't have this kind of space when living in apartments or in the house with my husband.  Many of my most special things stayed in boxes for over a decade.  Now I had a place to put them.  I couldn't resist.

            It was like Christmas... or maybe like a reunion with  old friends.  I unpacked each  bundle and found a special place for it.  My raccoon collection is free at last.  They live in the glass cabinets and up on the shelves above the monitor.  They are safe so I won't knock them around accidently.  But they are out in the open for the world to see.

              My ASL books and portfolio are neatly stacked on one  side shelf.  On the other I placed the braille/print picture books that I enjoy so much.  My manuals and  other braille books are in the big drawer.   The little drawer is full of all my small stuff.  In the old days, it would have been pens and pencils.  Now you'll find my slates and stylus, label tape, sticky bumps and dots and index cards I often use for making labels.  And there's the usual  desk supplies such as a hole puncher, stapler, glue and candy.  (Oh, I love candy.)   On the   very top of the hutch are my favorite stuffed animals and a basket of flowers.  It's a very friendly, cheerful desk.

            My life hasn't been easy.  At one point,  I  hit rock bottom.  I thought I had lost it all.  My desk was thrown out like the garbage.  That proved it was over.  But that wasn't the end.  As bleak as things would seem, there would be a new beginning.  I'm 35 years old and I'm deaf-blind.  I have new dreams and a new future.  My new desk will see it happen.  My desk... It's a place where dreams come true.



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