Paulay-Simmons, 24, was born in Washington to parents who were then students at Gallaudet. The family moved around a few times as she was growing up, but she always gravitated back: “The world is made for hearing people,” she said, and big cities with a lot of deaf people make life easier. The District is one of them. “I need my deaf stimulation and accessibility to socialize with ease, and Washington is where it’s at,” Paulay-Simmons said. “There are a lot of deaf people nearby.” She graduated from Gallaudet in May, with a degree in communications and psychology, and plans to stay in town.
Filming “Deaf U” helped her understand herself — and her city — better. “It gave me more opportunities to explore D.C.,” she said. “I got to go to bars I’d never heard of, and places I’d always wanted to go.”
During her ideal day in Washington, Paulay-Simmons, who lives in the District’s NoMa neighborhood, would take long walks and hunt for jewelry at antique shops.
My perfect day in D.C. would be during the spring, as the cherry blossoms and other flowers were blooming. That sweet smell of fresh flowers and grass would lure me to take strolls around the city, in pursuit of the crisp warmth of the sun coming out of hibernation. I would put on my favorite shiny black silk skirt with lace ruched at the bottom, plus a cute top, and I’d wear my pearl-encrusted hoop earrings and put my hair up using a silk scarf.
Then my boyfriend and I would walk to Ebenezers Coffeehouse on Capitol Hill and order my favorite drink, a honey-lavender latte. We’d drive to Old Town Alexandria and take a stroll along the cobblestone streets, soaking in the beauty of the historic town — there’s something so nostalgic about it. Along the way, we’d stop into antique stores in hopes of finding beautiful jewelry. Whatever I stumble upon would even top the brassy lion’s head bracelet I found at an antique shop in Frederick. He’s roaring, with cubic zirconia diamonds for eyes. It was so beautiful and exotic that my grandmother fell in love with it.
After the stroll in Alexandria, we would take the scenic route to Georgetown and wander, window-shopping at antique stores and daydreaming about buying a high-end purse from Ella-Rue. We’d also make a “quick” stop at Urban Outfitters. Eventually, our walk would deposit us at Ristorante Piccolo to grab a bite of grilled eggplant topped with sun-dried tomato and goat cheese. We’d pair it with spaghetti tossed with onions, garlic, bell peppers and tomato sauce. Our order would also, of course, come with a bottle of chardonnay.
After eating at this cute restaurant, we would head to the Tidal Basin and spread a red-and-white checkered picnic basket on the grass. We’d relax under a blooming cherry blossom tree, making sure that we had a perfect view of the Lincoln Memorial and shimmering water.
We’d have planned ahead and brought a snack: a vegetarian-style charcuterie board full of carrots, cucumbers, cheese, crackers and dips and, of course, more wine. There would be two glasses; one for me, and one for my boyfriend. We’d have grabbed it all from Trader Joe’s the day before. Then, we would bask in the serenity of nature and watch the petals from the cherry blossom trees flurry over us, and we would play Speed, a card game. I would win every time. We’d spend the entire afternoon there, basking in each other’s company, playing games and enjoying good food and wine as we watched the sun set beneath the horizon.
As the sun sank into the sky, we would head to our home near NoMa, where we would cook our weekly themed dinner together, and it would be a sushi day. I, of course, would make vegetarian sushi stuffed with avocado, carrots and cucumber rolled up in sweet sushi rice and seaweed, and I’d dip it into homemade spicy mayo. After dark, we’d watch an action movie starring Brad Pitt to end the day.