Saturday, November 6, 2010

Quiet House

A quiet house – the hum of the refrigerator as a sort of white noise background, the living room clock audibly marking each second, the occasional click of the thermostat – and not much else going on inside. Outside, the sound of cars passing by, but not very many and not very often.

It’s nice. Peaceful. This was not always the case. It used to make me edgy.

I used to require noise, and lots of it. Silence was unbearable, as it allowed the recognition of thoughts and feelings. Upon arrival home, the first thing I would do, before even removing my coat, was turn on some music – loud enough to fill 5 or 6 or 8 rooms, depending upon which house or apartment we’re talking about. If it wasn’t the stereo, it was the television, equally loud, so I could hear it no matter where I wandered.

In the car, the radio was mandatory – back in the days in New England when I actually listened to radio. In Tennessee, there are only two stations I can tolerate – Lightning 100 out of Nashville, which I can’t even get reception for during daylight hours, and NPR (which has proven to be the source of introduction of several musical groups that I now love , including Chico Science and Gogol Bordello).

The noisier days needed music playing to sleep. The concept is still good, but tougher now, because my clock radio has a quirk. If the radio volume is set to a decent volume for sleeping, it also lowers the volume of the alarm. Fall asleep to classical music, and stay asleep through the alarm. Set the volume for the optimal alarm level and the music volume is blaring, resulting in near suffocation from burial of the head under pillows to sleep. It may have been better when the alarm clock and radio were separate technologies.

Back in the day, several nights a week were spent listening to live (loud) bands, shouting to friends over the music, or just standing near them not talking. I miss that. I have not found (or even really looked for) a local music spot where I can show up alone, still know people, and hear great music. At least I still have the memories of those days in Worcester when I could walk into Ralph’s or Vincent’s at any time and know people to talk to.

These days, it’s the bookstore coffee shop or an art reception if I go “out,” and time at home involves rambling monologues to the dog. There is no longer fear of acknowledging my thoughts and feelings anymore, because I have learned a great trick – shutting them off. They are buried so deep now, there may be no retrieving them. No more feeling like a raw, exposed nerve. No more feeling anything! Just operate in a wide band of bland – unfazed by most things. Sure, I still get teary eyed at picturs of dogs and cats on Petfinder and dead animals on the side of the road, because they probably had little control over their fate. But everything else ….

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