Fragments From the Memory Log, Entry Eleven
Because of the awareness-inducing focus a task like writing incurs, I now can't help but pay attention to what are normally unsolicitous sounds from beyond the open window at my side. And thanks to the ever present Memory and its receptivity to recall by something as simple as the impetus of another's virtual journal contents, the outside noises streaming in from important periods of my life (along with the far greater selection of mundane ones) can be ripped and replayed quite readily.
As a young child lying awake in dark and early morning hours (sleep, what is sleep?), I engaged in a strange relationship with the sound of a monstrous yellow street sweeper as it slowly motored through my small-town neighborhood. It's purpose: to draw a water-print path on a never ending cleaning binge -- Felix Unger made real and amazingly mechanical. As the deep rhythmic swooshing of the street sweeper's vast circular brushes ground the asphalt and granite curbing, it would send a wash of warm energy over me in delightful electric waves pulsing down my spine. At the height of its accumulated decibel levels, an involuntary shudder worked its way out from my body, starting at my back then rushing to my extremities and the ends of my toes and tips of my fingers. If I understood about sex back then I may have attempted a comparison; but I didn't, and it doesn't, and you should be ashamed of yourself in looking for one.
So many years later as a newly married man, I lived quite close to a babbling brook. Yes, an honest to goodness cliched babbler. The near silence was almost too much to bear, but bear it I did, and in time came to live for it. The flow of the water's surface over the eclectic topography of its rocky bottom gave the sensation my wife and I had stumbled into life at a country cottage, even if the cottage was tucked into a condominium complex and the brook winnowed through a hollow depression near a city's center. The silverfish crawling over our walls only helped with the conceit. For the macabre, a graveyard lay just the other side of the brook. Though I often listened for it, I never overheard the whispers of the lounging dead. Perhaps they weren't a vocal bunch.
Life can be contradictory about things when it wants to be, so it briskly juxtaposed my faux-rural life with a post marriage existence four-floors above the bustle and downtown hubbub of a tourist trap town, as similarly trapped between major thoroughfares whipping around the modern city-state of Boston. To drop in a vulgar standardism, the roar of the crowd could be deafening, but it took little time for me to acculturate to the din and learn how to pick out and relish the details. It was all quite obtrusive, sleep depriving, and demanding of attention at times I preferred the cocoon of my own thoughts; but the vibrant soundscape of a living, breathing city has the ability to lull one into a false sense of acceptance. I found the daily patterns of people, of traffic, of the distant variegated hum and haw, could almost be taken as a narcotic -- sadly accompanied by the same debilitating effects of withdrawal.
A brief time shift into the present, and the place I now find myself is certainly different from those other experiences. Except for rare moments, sounds driven in through the windows get drowned out by the noises inside, whether the drowsy human static of a radio switched on through the night, or the dull echo of the television in the next room for much of the day, or the mumbled voices skimming and wandering with un-jacked phone receivers at other intermittent times. I really need to get back on my feet and out on my own again, if only to regain the relative quiet I was enjoying a few short months ago.