Last night was a chance to do something I have not participated in since 2001 at Northern Arizona University. My present girlfriend, Brittany Ellenbecker, is a member of Phi Kappa Zeta sorority and May 1, 2009, was the date for their annual Minurva Ball. About a three weeks ago Brittany asked me to be her date while already knowing I would say “yes” because I’m her current beau. Nonetheless, she wanted to have some fun with the whole ‘asking’ part to this event and she did it in unique fashion. During this recent weekend sometime in early April Brittany text me to come over to Clerc dorm because she needed me for something. Being the reliable boyfriend that I am I said I’d be over in a jiff. I went up to 5th floor using the elevator that day and when I came out there was a large crafted invitation by the south-facing window to my left that read written in cherry blossom petals, “Garrett, MB?” The funny part was that I did not know what ‘MB’ meant AND it was Easter Sunday (just remembered that) so I tried piecing things together like this ‘MB’ thing is related to Easter somehow. Her dorm room door was open so I went in fully suspecting an in-your-face surprise of some kind, or that she was hiding herself for me to find instead of the customary decorated Easter eggs. I hunted the room completely and couldn’t find anything out of the ordinary, including Brittany…haha. So, I went back out in the hallway to have a look at that sign one more time and when I did I could see Brittany in the study room on her knees peeking out from the doorway. Turns out she had been there the whole time stationed to catch my expression and reaction on camera when I stepped off the elevator to see this big sign addressing me. Her plan wound up flopping some so I re-enacted the facial expression. Never have had someone ask me to a formal dance in that fashion before.
Of course I told Brittany I’d go with her so yesterday was pretty much all about attending this formal ball. Students here seem to all know about it and many of them get pretty excited at its happening. I arrived at Brittany’s floor in Clerc around 5pm yesterday and it was jam-packed with females doing each other’s hair, putting on finishing touches of Maybelline, taking pictures; it was wild. But it’s cool to see everyone involved with each other on such a connected, intimate level of friendship. That is something I felt myself disconnected from as I was losing my hearing and to see it here and be part of it again is a great feeling. I borrowed a shirt and tie from a friend in Kappa Gamma fraternity, had myself a Killian’s Irish Red 12”—kindly offered by my stunning date—and then it was time to board the charter bus. We were not to know of where the event was being hosted until we arrived there.
The bus seemed to take us on an indirect route because, after passing the Washington Monument and Tidal Basin—home to the National Cherry Blossom Festival’s honorary namesake—we curved back east towards the Navy Yard district. Brittany and I began to think maybe we were eating at a seafood restaurant and that dancing would be on a water-side patio or something. But nope, the surprise was even better: dinner and dancing on a ship called The Spirit. There were three accessible levels and after an AWESOME dinner that required seconds the whole group went upstairs for pictures. One thing I have noticed since being among the Deaf, and have commented on in the blogs written for the First Year Study Tour to Costa Rica, is that assembling people without the use of sound creates a whole new ballgame. This being the case, Brittany and I took to a romantic panorama right away and watched the jets fly into and depart from Reagan Airport. The moon was half-full and there were several smaller boats that went by, one of which was a party boat so everyone waved back and forth. We eventually took an entire group shot meaning dates included and next just the “sisters” all in the picture. The delayed time getting everyone together did not matter on this occasion, though, because the more time the better for being up top on a dinner boat with my girl and everyone in high spirits and laughing.
The night went on till the early morning once we got back to Gallaudet’s campus which was around midnight. It was a great evening and one that I’m going to never forget, not with all the fun we had. And to think that a year ago this month I was just finishing my last day at work in Tucson getting ready to have surgery on my ear for a cochlear implant, with next to ZERO of an idea for what the future held beyond that point.