Friday, August 29, 2008

The Sound of Silence

Cats meowing for their dinner. Minotaur tapping away at the computer, telling me about the cool things he did at work that day (none of which I really understand, of course). The Kraken, calling for attention, dinner, assistance, a bath, a bandaid. Colleagues, asking questions, needing information. Friends and family, calling for news, or to convey it.

Human sounds. They're not bad things (except for the stupid cats). I enjoy my communications with the rest of the world, being a social and interactive creature at my core. But they are pervasive in my adult life, and the moments when they are absent are few and far between. At work, either a phone call or a visit every 15 minutes or so. Almost every evening a phone call or two, plus the complete cacophony that is a household with a child in it. The only time there is quiet is when I am asleep, and cannot actually enjoy it. Even then, the silence is broken; by the Kraken's occasional nightmares, by my geriatric girl cat jumping onto the bed, missing, and howling her rage at being thwarted (always fun at 2 AM), by the neighbors, choosing to be out on their back porch talking loudly at midnight. By the Minotaur's snoring. I crave silence like other people crave ice cream.

I always did, come to think of it. In the town I lived in before returning to the South for college, we lived in the desert, halfway up a mountain. Air that smelled like toasting sage and the passage of time. Back door views into untouched, unsullied land, parts of which may have never even been traveled by man. And of course, a 7 year old brother who traveled with a pack of 10-12 boys at all times, running through the neighorhood like a bad case of the plague - destructive, chaotic, and more than a little smelly. Whenever the noises would become too much for me to manage, I would pack up a notebook and a pen, and start the hike up the mountain behind us. In only a few short minutes, I could reach an outcropping of rock from which the town looked like a miniature train set, nestled in the valley below me. And even my own house looked small and remote. And then there was silence.

Oh sure, there were birds. The sound of the river below, sometimes, if the water was high. The occasional snuffling noise that meant a coyote was none too far away. Shifting, rustling sounds (rattlesnake? Scorpion? Or squirrel?) that for some reason never bothered me. The obliviousness of youth. Every now and again one of the neighborhood dogs would make an appearance, lolloping madly around my ankles, hoping for a little attention before returning home. But no HUMAN sounds. No voices. No music. No clompity clomp of little feet approaching.

So I would sit, for hours sometimes. Writing in my notebook; what, I shudder to remember. Bad poetry to be sure. The thoughts and hopes and dreams of a 15 year old girl. But it was quiet, and I was in another place. One where my brain was allowed to go where it would go, whether that led me somewhere revelatory, or simply somewhere sad.

I miss that little outcropping of rock. I have no equivalent here. There is no place I can go within the confines of my universe to escape the human noises. Except for days like today. I am not working. I am home. I am painting my kitchen cabinets. In complete silence, but for the quiet hum of the dryer in the background. And to me that just sounds like the river.


HalfJax said...

I keep telling you Heather.

Come home.

cubmommy said...

I know what you mean. Sometimes after all the kids go to bed, I will turn off the tv and just sit in the silence and breathe it in. No yelling, screaming, laughing just quiet. Lovely.

Sugarmama said...

Mmmm, silence. I never was someone who listened to music when hanging out at home for exactly that reason. It's so nice to just hear NOTHING sometimes.

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