I first wanted to learn sign language when I saw Linda on Sesame street.
I was so fascinated by the idea of speaking with just my hands (perhaps because I would later be accused of not being able to talk at ALL without my hands . . . .)
I first started taking lessons as a Laurel project while in high school. I was by no means proficient, but had a good grasp at the basics. Then in college I got the chance to go further. I took 2 classes, sign 1 and another class I can't remember the name of now. It was basically conversational sign, actually taught by a hearing man who was raised with deaf parents. I loved it!
But I never used it. And 5 years later, I felt like I'd lost almost all of it.
Then, last year we moved into our house. And I met my friend Cindy. Now I have the chance to sign multiple times a week. I even get to interpret frequently for her. While my real ASL is still not that great, I can sign and understand enough to carry on a conversation with most deaf people.
That is amazing. I know another language. I use it frequently. One of the neatest things about interpreting is how it forces me to think of English differently. I have to actually understand so many synonyms of words - and think it through enough to change back and forth. To see something in ASL, and then hear the same in English - there is a difference. A different emphasis, and touch different meaning. I love the insights it has given me.