Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Saturday nights with the NSA Nation......

Good evening everyone,

The cold winds are upon us, and for many around the world, this is the best time of year. The Christmas lights are up, the menorahs are soon to be lit, and for once, it seems like everyone has a spring in their step, a smile on their face, and maybe a little more patience than they used to. However, that isn't always true, given the way things are in the world-high unemployment, frustrations in finding a job, wondering when the next chapter of our lives will be starting.

On Saturday, Dec. 5, I had the honor of getting together with my peers for an NSA holiday party. The Manhattan (New York County) chapter for the past two years, has hosted a get-together which is open to anyone who stutters, regardless of chapter affiliation. Last year, I made a suggestion that it would be a great idea to make it an inter-chapter gathering, and that was accepted. This year, we invited those from Long Island, Queens, Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Central Jersey to attend. Unbeknownst at the time, we were about to be greeted by a mixture of snow and slush, but even though the calendar read December, for me it might as well have been a special version of Thanksgiving because I was with those who get me.

There's something special about seeing the smile of a teammate who you don't always get to see that often, the genuineness of a handshake and catching up on old times and seeing what has been going on. Sometimes the news is great, other times not so much. But you still embrace the camaraderie that is there. I met so many new members who were thrilled at the chance to meet others who were walking in the same shoes we walked in, facing the same challenges we do on a daily basis. And over barbecued chicken and chili, we laughed, we chatted, we had become so close in an amazingly short amount of time.

The night we held our party, the NSA chapter in the Bay Area (San Francisco) held their holiday party, which I thought had an excellent title: "Eat, Drink, and Be M-M-Merry." How poetic was it that on both sides of the country, with 3,000 miles separating each other, these two chapters held their own events. Yet all over the U.S., there were many chapters hosting holiday parties and getting together in their own way to showcase the spirit of what the NSA Nation really is.

I can say that I don't always get to the city often. Most of my life is concentrated on Long Island, and I am a suburbanite-every time I exit the Long Island Railroad at Pennsylvania Station and go up the escalator, I am still awestruck at the skyscrapers and wonder how I find myself there. But taking the 10:52 back home, and passing some of the skyline, I have to say when you find yourself alone, when you have the worst speech day possible and nothing just goes according to plan, you know that you aren't. You're a citizen of the NSA Nation. We all are. And that is the best feeling in the world.

My name is Steven Kaufman and I am a person who stutters. Until next time, stand up and be counted. Make your voice heard.