The sound of silence.

The rest of Saturday was relatively uneventful.  Half of it was gone by the time I left the “Lady’s manor” and returned to my meager home, and much of the evening was spent in little giggles of remembering and more rest in my own bed.

Sunday didn’t seem as though it would be anything remarkable; some noise around the house, neighbors and traffic and all the daily cacophony surrounding me as I lay in bed and killed time on my computer.  The usual group of deep, resounding voices was here, but I sighed with relief to recall that most of the people I know from living here were headed to their weekly RPG party night, and I’d have some time alone.

Well, as I was attempting to wrap up a few last things on the computer, I heard a huge FHWOOMP! and the power went out.  It was not quite 5PM, and though I’d never heard the sound before, logic stepped in and said, “That was a transformer blowing out, and very nearby!”  Sirens down the street in the moments that followed confirmed that something had happened, but an authority figure of some sort, police or fire or whatnot, surprised me with his words: “That’s a live wire! Get back in your house and stay inside. There’s 17,000 volts in that thing; it’ll kill you!”

So, as the next hour and a half slowly passed, we waited for the electric company to show up — on a Sunday evening, they don’t respond too quickly — and that time was filled with lots of shouting, mostly from the same man I’d first heard, repeating the message to everyone who came near: Get back! Behind the barrier tape! That wire will kill you! Just stay in your house and wait! Another 30 minutes after the power guys rolled up before the wire was safely down, and I found that it wasn’t just “nearby,” it was directly in front of my apartment!  Had I tried to go anywhere, I’d have had to walk beneath the sagging, sparking cable in order to leave.

When it was finally clear to leave the house, I did so; being pent up with no power sounded like no fun, and I try to get out of the house at least once every day, to go walking and get some sun and a chance to breathe a bit of fresh air.  As I walked, I asked the people I saw what they knew about the blackout, and was surprised to find that power had been knocked out to quite a wide area.  The nearby subway station, 6 or 7 blocks out, had gone dark, out of service until they got their generators running.  Several blocks beyond that were out, and various spots further away in different directions had been affected, including a few businesses downtown which were “Sorry, closed early — no power!”  I found out later that some residences had their power go out later, around or after midnight, which fits with about when the power company sent out more trucks to restring the wire.

After going out to sit at Starbucks for a spell then recognizing my tedium, tiredness, and anxiety, I decided to go home once again.  The power was out still, and as I sat down in my room and saw the shadows lengthen and the sun fall, I laughed.  Mind you, what I wanted was to bellow a hearty belly-laugh, but what came out was just a soft chuckle… I felt such awe in the silence I heard that I reflexively quieted myself in respect and reverence.  I listened.  Then I strained to hear, listened more closely, and smiled as I heard… nothing.  The beautiful sound of silence, so rare and so often needed — and here it was for me to enjoy!

I know how frequently I go without enough sleep, and with darkness and quiet for the second time in as many days, I prepared myself for slumber and once again received sweet, beautiful rest.  A few hours later — I don’t recall precisely how many, and I didn’t have my large digital clock to check — I heard loud voices once again.  The others had returned, screaming and shouting and talking loudly as usual, though it was a definite delight to hear her lose her calm, to “freak out” as she put it.  Not because I take pleasure in her emotional pain, but because her displays of emotion are so rare, and she frequently works to suppress visible emotion entirely… she seems to think this makes her more “grown up,” but it was refreshing to hear her humanity, to be reminded that she’s like everyone else.

Perhaps an hour later, they all left again.  Blessed with that blissful silence once more, I went back to bed and slept.  Once when I awoke, I noticed that my clock was flashing its big red 12:00 — then I rolled over and rested some more.  When I finally found myself unable to go back to sleep, I got up, started my day at half past noon, set my clock and asked around to see when the electricity had been restored… just before 5AM, fully 12 hours from the time it had gone.  If it wasn’t for the spoiled food in the fridge, I’d love to do this again, even as a frequent — but unexpected and unannounced — occurrence!  It got the rest of the noisy people away, it pulled me away from my technological time-sinks, and allowed me to catch up on some much-needed rest.

Of course I realize that many of these same joys could be had by, say, going camping, or having another place to stay for a night or two even if it’s somewhere with electricity — and I’d certainly love those options or others to enjoy… Right now I’m without any such luxuries, though I hope to find someone to help me figure out how to put those into action.  My ultimate dream would be a home of my own, a little place with a few rooms, far enough from major roads not to have the noise of traffic, in an area where nobody finds it acceptable to use their car as a “neighborhood stereo.”  A modest space to call my own, to invite whomever I chose to share that space — whether a woman (or two, or more) for a night, friends for an evening of fun, or whatever else felt right.  I know that dream is distant now, but I’ll keep it in my heart and look for ways to bring it closer as life moves forward!

And for the moment, things have returned to “normal” — lots of noise, lots of people, lots of loud, low voices, lots of coughing and traffic and the buzz and hum of computers and refrigerators and lights, too little sleep and too much stress… but I look forward to any chance that comes my way to revel in that lovely sound of silence once again.

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