How easy it is, to forget the sound of silence. Not complete silence. Not deafness, for I don’t know that sound. Not even the buzzing of cupped hands over conch-shell ears, which, in our childhood, taught us the sounds of our own rushing blood and ticking joints. I mean the silence of the night, the trading of sun sounds for moon.
I am home. My parents’ house, which, no matter how I try to sell it, will always be my home. I hear the dogs barking, their scared barks, shivering bodies whispering against low hanging pine branches as the run the length of the yard. I stand on the porch, still in the light from the front room, listening. Elk, no, something slower. I try to figure it out as the dog several houses down barks too. Maybe a bear. And then, in one of those magic moments where I forget all the things I’ve been worrying over, I listen to the quiet.
There are still human noises. The flickering hum of street lamps. My daddy’s footsteps inside the house. An air conditioner that says, “shhh…” like a librarian. But there’s some kind of music in the noises here. In the pattering toenails of the dogs, dancing a post-battle jig. In the crickets. And in the stars that seem so clear that I almost think I can hear them speaking.
This is my quiet, and I have missed it.
The last time I felt it was during a tornado warning, when, stupidly, I stepped outside after my neighbors had taken their tornado party inside and after the hail stopped. I just watched the lightning pop, felt the rain touch my bare arms, and thought about how, without another soul in sight, I could have been completely naked and no one would know. I could have danced over the front lawn without anyone’s eyes following me. There is a great deal of freedom in solitude.
But instead, I went back inside. I wasn’t looking for a thrill, I was just saying thanks in my own way for the rain and the quiet and the momentary relief from all the usual summer-boredom noises that have lately surrounded my little rental house.
And now, at my home–the one place in the world my bare feet know better than my eyes–I’m thankful again. Even though I can see from my quiet place the roadblock that keeps us from the areas where the wildfire is still active and even though I am surrounded by the sting of loss, I have a space where I can rejoice in silence.
Dear reader, I only hope you have the same.