Noises Off

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By Rebecca Alexander '05PH, '05SW, from her 2014 memoir Not Fade Away (Gotham). Born with a rare genetic disorder called Usher syndrome type III, Alexander has been simultaneously losing her sight and her hearing since she was a child.


Waves washing over my feet, Olive enthusiastically lapping up water in that insatiable way that dogs do. I wonder if I’d love these sounds as much if I hadn’t lost them, but, because I have, I remember to appreciate the other ways that I experience things. Slipping into a hot bath, the steam rising around me as I sink in; walking out into the waves in Hawaii, the combined smell of flowers and suntan lotion mixed with salt. The icy water that I chug after my spin class. As much as I miss sounds, though, I have learned to love silence even more. When I think back on all of the noise I grew up with and how comfortable I was with sound, I am amazed at how significantly my circumstances and feelings about sound have changed. If I had a choice, I’d definitely choose to be deaf rather than blind.

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