Such Quiet

While the world goes on at home—the familiar noise, the banging, the whoops, the heels on floorboards, the stumbles on stairs, the sirens, the honks, the car alarms going off again, the incessant buzzing of someone who wants to get into the building but doesn’t live here, our neighbor slamming her door then forgetting something and going back in and slamming her door and going back out and slamming her door and forgetting something again and slamming her door and so on, the usual—we are here in this isolated spot. Anywhere around the house, all directions, any one, there are trees. No other houses can be seen. No lights through leaves. No sense that another human being is reachable, if we had to reach another human being, if, for example, some strange murky creature ascended from the pond just out the sliding glass doors, slithered up the deck, and attacked us, and we started running, I don’t know if I could figure out where the long dirt driveway is in the dark.

I’m not saying I’m afraid of the pond at night—though the gang of bats, doing wild loop-the-loops over the water, so close to the house, were enough to keep me away from it. When night fell, the sky dark blue, the bats could be seen at first (Are those birds? I’d thought. Then, Oh god no those are not birds) and as it got later into the night, and the sky turned from deep blue to deep black, I couldn’t see the bats at all. Which is maybe worse. The bullfrogs in the pond called from dissonant spots in the water. I’d turn my head to one, startled, then get startled at another. The wind through trees made that husssshhhhhh sound, like someone was whispering. There are moments when this is so alien to me. Maybe I have really become a city person.

Then, over breakfast in a sunlit kitchen, the only sound outside the house the strum of wind through trees, and the twitters that could be birds maybe, hell I don’t know, we started talking about the topic of quiet. Which brought us directly to the topic of noise, and home. I began excitedly describing the night revelers I run into early mornings on my walk down Christopher Street, what I imagine of them, what I’ve seen, and he looked at me for a moment, a small smile on his face. Funny, he said, that we come all the way out here and end up talking about the city. Yeah, I said. Maybe you’ll write about the city today, he said, seeing as you’re not in it. That could be true, though how strange would it be to channel such noise when I am here in this quiet.

At this point, really, I don’t care what to write about. Quiet, noise, the fact that I was making pancakes, I’ll take anything.

This quiet is what my head feels like: the occasional screeching of unidentifiable creatures, and wind.

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