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"Define... Hear"

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hear /hir/

verb

perceive with the ear the sound made by (someone or something).

 

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Hearing. It’s simple enough. Really, it’s the one thing your ears are designed to do. One of your basic five senses.

Except sometimes it’s not that simple. People are born deaf, or hard of hearing. People lose their hearing in ways throughout their life, as they age or through accidents. Jeremy falls into the latter category.

Not to get into too much of the details, but waking up in a hospital bed after a car accident? Scary stuff.

Waking up in a hospital bed after a car accident and barely being able to hear your best friend speaking to you? Even worse.

Lots of tests, and retests, and oh wow- a couple of more tests later, and that’s how Jeremy ended up sitting in his best friend's basement, messing with his hearing aid a bit without realizing it.

Until he feels a familiar hand on his forearm, gently pulling his hand away from his ear.

“Hey Jere, you’re spacing out again buddy,” Michael was in front of him, making sure Jeremy had looked up at him before he had began to speak.

Michael was always really careful about that kind of stuff, taught himself to make a habit of doing this whenever he spoke to Jeremy.

Jeremy’s tongue darted out of his mouth for a second, wetting his bottom lip before he spoke. This was one of his own habits. It gave him a chance to internally adjust his speaking volume to what he thought was right for the time. (Of course, not that it mattered when he was alone with Michael, but habits are habits.)

He hadn’t meant to, it’s easier to accidentally do that when only four of your five senses works. Whatever movie Michael had put on earlier apparently hadn’t been able to keep his attention for long enough, and his brain had just started to wander.

This is the worst when he’s in classes that he doesn’t like. English? He almost always has his aids turned down, staring at the dumb poster on the wall that says “Nobody is perfect, that’s why pencils have erasers” on it. He could space out the entire class period (and he has before). Michael usually gets his attention when needed anyway. No harm no foul, right?

“Oh, ‘m sorry.” The heel of his foot dug into the bean bag below him, feeling the beads move around and knowing they made a rustling noise. That’s a noise that’s definitely etched into his brain forever, after all of those nights of video games and movie marathons between the two.

“Don’t be,” Michael broke out into a smile, it was reassuring to Jeremy that he hadn’t upset him. “Hey, I finally hacked the subtitles onto the new mario game, wanna play that?”

Safe to say, the night was looking up.

 

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hear \’hir\

verb

to perceive or become aware of by the ear

 

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Sometimes Jere has really, really bad days.

Don’t get him wrong, he’s managing pretty well for a hard of hearing person going through high school!! But.. add on his anxiety? Sometimes he has days where he can’t help but get overwhelmed by all of his surroundings.

Like today, Jeremy was lucky enough to make it through math class before he started feeling the familiar tightness in his chest and swerved his way off of his path of heading to his study hall to straight to the nurse's office.

Shooting a quick text to Michael, he made himself comfortable sitting on the hard table, the cool plastic of it feeling nice on his hands as he let his eyes close.

One of the perks of being a regular in here was that he could dial his hearing aids down as far as they’d go, close his eyes, and work on calming down. (He used this trick at family gatherings too. Passover seder meals are amazing! But with as big of a family as Jeremy has? With all of those younger cousins running around and older relatives telling the same old stories over and over again? It’s extreme sensory overload, so he learned to just shut his eyes, and block everything out. Cutting out two of your senses is surprisingly calming.)

Luckily this was only two periods before school let out, one of his being study hall, so he didn’t have to call his dad to come pick him up this time. He just waited it out till Michael was out of math class to drive him back to his place.

Well, he thought they were going back to Michael’s place. But as soon as the two of them buckled their seatbelts, and Jere got into his usual position of sitting slightly angled towards the center console so that he could read Michael’s lips without him having to turn, Michael started driving the opposite direction of his house.

“Uhhh-” before Jeremy could even finish his confused thought, Michael knew what he was wondering and cut him off.

“You look like you need a music break.” Michael was already tapping his fingertips on the steering wheel while he drove.

Music break. That’s what Michael liked to call these. They would drive out to right outside of their little town, where there was this old run down bowling alley that closed when the boys were about eight, and sit in the parking lot with the radio as loud as they could take it.

It never takes them long to get there, it’s a twenty minute drive from their school tops. When they do, Jere’s already rolling down his window to let the cool fall breeze in and Michael’s already cranking the Weezer up.

Jeremy lets his seatbelt pop out, hitting the door a bit but he knows Michael doesn’t care because he does the same. Sitting forward a little he lets his hand press against the speaker, the music pulsing against his skin.

He pressed the toe of his old converse (the same pair that Michael had jokingly written ‘Andy’ on when they were in freshman year) to the speaker that was on the bottom of his door too, completely letting the music take over.

 

The song changed a handful of time, Michael having a specific playlist with the best “beats” as he oh so loved to it. When Jere was feeling better, they headed back to what was to be a good weekend of not having to worry about any sensory overloads. He was safe and calm when he was around Michael.

 

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hear [heer]

verb (used with object)

to perceive by the ear

 

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Jeremy used to love the water. It was easily one of his favorite things, he loved to swim so much. Ocean, pool, anything he could get his feet wet in.

Now with his hearing aids, he’s stopped swimming so much. He can’t get them wet, but being so vulnerable without them in water causes too much anxiety for him.

So he doesn’t swim much anymore.

One thing he has picked up on doing on days that he needs to cool down a bit, or he misses the water though? He fills his bathtub up, and just let’s his head up to his ears submerge in the water.

You see, under the water, no one can hear clearly. Everything is mumbled, choppy, sounds like you’ve got cotton balls stuffed in your ears right?

This makes Jeremy feel better, because it’s something everyone feels. It makes him feel less isolated, as that’s a big part of people like him. People who struggle with the “cotton ball” situation every day of their lives.

He also likes to ask Michael what it’s like living with glasses. That helps him too, even though he knows hearing aids and prescription glasses aren’t really the same thing, again it makes him feel a little more normal.

“My whole world is a little fuzzy, a little off.” Michael tells him all the time. ‘That’s how my world sounds, a little fuzzy, a little off.’ Is what Jeremy wants to say back.

Sometimes they like to play this dumb little game where Michael spends the afternoon trying to play video games without his glasses on. Michael likes to joke that he can still kick Jeremy’s ass even without being able to see. (That’s usually the opposite of what happens, but Jere lets him gloat a little.)

Michael knows about this bathtub thing Jeremy does. Of course he does, Michael knows everything about Jeremy. He knows that he likes Jenna to paint his nails so it helps him practice his ASL more. He knows that he hates rap music but lets Michael play it for the bass of the songs. He knows that sometimes at their sleep overs Jeremy forgets his aids in, and Michael has to take them off while he sleeps.

And he knows Jeremy is afraid to get back in the water. So, as soon as the New Jersey weather goes from rainy and gloomy, to bright and hot as balls, Michael’s spending his allowance his moms gave him on a pool for his front yard.

When Mr. Heere pulls up, dropping a confused Jeremy off at the door, he isn’t expecting to find Michael holding a hose over this kiddie pool wearing some stupid Pokemon printed swim trunks and some (prescription) sunglasses over his eyes.

“What?” is all Jeremy has to say as he tosses his bag down on Michael’s driveway, standing in front of Michael so that he can see him when he speaks.

Michael makes sure he’s standing where the sun isn’t behind him, so Jere doesn’t have to squint to read his lips. “Pool party!”

That’s apparently all of the explanation that the boy needs, because he’s slipping his hearing aids into the safety of his zip up backpack, far away from the pool. In ten (long) minutes, they’re both sitting in this sad excuse of a pool, their long legs hanging out both sides.

“I wanna try something.”

Michael slips down in the pool, water rushing up around his face, splashing on his glasses a bit as his ears disappear under the surface.

“Try to talk to me!” Michael about near yells, not that Jeremy can really tell, not being able to hear his own volume. ‘That’s probably how Jeremy feels..’

“Uh- That new sweater you got makes you look extremely gay,” Jeremy had a playful smirk on his lips, knowing damn well that Michael can still hear him.

“WHA- JEREMY!!” Michael screeched, sitting up with an arm out, making a makeshift wave splash up on Jeremy. Both boys are laughing their asses off, Jeremy wiping water droplets off of the tip of his nose and Michael trying to shake water out of his ears.

They only quiet down their laughter when Michael tells Jeremy that one of his mom's is standing on the porch telling them to put more sunblock on.

 

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hear /h I r/

verb

to receive or become aware of sounds with your ears

 

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“I love you.” Michael felt a literal weight be lifted off of his shoulders as the words left his mouth. It’s not like he had been practicing them in the mirror for a week (he had been).

Except, the reply only added his nervousness back into his body.

“What?” Was all that Jeremy said, eyebrows knit together, head tilted to the side a little with his better ear closer to Michael.

Deep breath. Wiping his sweaty hands on his jeans. Chewing on the inside of his cheek where there definitely will be a sore later. “You heard me, Jeremy.” Michael was too afraid to repeat it. The uncertainty from Jeremy’s side eating away at all the confidence he may have had previously.

Another beat, Jeremy’s lips twitching up like he wants to break out into a grin but is stopping himself. And for a moment Michael thinks he’s gonna say it back, that he was just pulling his leg a little. “No.. I really didn’t Michael. Can you please repeat yourself?”

Oh.. OH!

“Shit!!- Wait okay let me try that again, I was nervous I don’t think I was speaking clearly enough-” Michael's hands dart out to hold onto Jere’s arms, making sure that he is completely facing him and that he is going to be able to hear him this time.

“Jeremy, I love you.”

This time? Jeremy more than hear him. And after the two of them stop being so serious, and break out into fits of middle schooler like giggles, Jeremy was able to talk. He didn’t worry about his volume, he didn’t worry about if he was stuttering, all he worried about was getting the words out.

“I-” Jeremy paused for a second, hands in fists as he crossed his arms over his chest in a ‘x’ formation, fisting his shirt a little to show how serious he was about this word. “Love. You.”

Kissing was something that you didn’t need to hear, or see to do. So it was the perfect activity for these two boys. And believe him when he says, they definitely got pretty good at it that day.

 

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hear /heere/

verb

something he can’t do it perfectly, but he’s learning that’s okay