I love the feeling of falling into somebody else’s world, temporarily leaving my own reality to find a place in another. In some ways, I experience that in my work. It’s my privilege as an interpreter that I’m allowed into the most private moments of other people’s lives, or simply that I have the opportunity to walk into situations that I would never otherwise have access to. Although that’s not at the foundation of why I became a sign language interpreter, and certainly not a main reason why I continue to be one, it is a part of what keeps me balanced.
Being in the hospital room as a child is born, in the court room when a divorce is granted, on the course as someone learns to ride a motorcycle, in the classroom where they study to be a priest, a rabbi, a teacher, a lawyer, an historian or an artist, in the office when someone is fired, on the phone for a fight between a mother and her son, or on a stage in front of tens of thousands of people, it’s my honor to gain perspective from other people’s lives.
While my professional access to these experiences might be unique, I know I’m not alone in the desire to immerse myself in other’s stories. And for as long as I can remember, I’ve done that with books. I was the little girl hiding with the flashlight under the covers, escaping into The Secret Garden. I was the teenager devouring trashy novels and Wuthering Heights with equal abandon (which I guess might have been trashy in its day.) In my twenties I called the New York Public Library my second home, and missed my subway stop time and again as Barbara Kingsolver, Isabelle Allende, J. K. Rowling and David Sedaris wove their tales around me. And in my thirties I fell in love with audio books and cookbooks, returned to children’s literature, and began a habit of reading electronically.