March 9, 2009
I write this from my midtown Manhattan outpost in a lovely little boutique hotel, to tend my blog, as well as to tend my psyche. I adore this city and it was my home from 0 to 21.5 years. I return often these days for various work-related activities, framed by visits with friends and my mother, who like so many New Yorkers tethered to a great piece of real estate, still lives in the same apartment in which I grew up. There’s something really adorable about getting a big hug from the doorman, Tony, who has known me since I was six and instantly recognizes me from 41 years ago the moment I step out of the taxicab. I fight the urge to ask him for a piece of candy.
It ain’t news to anyone that New York is a very noisy place. But the unending onslaught of construction, honking, sirens, jack-hammering, and rumbling subways underneath the ground on which this hotel stands, starkly reminds me that I am no longer inured to this noise in any way. Each hair in my ears is on full alert and on edge with every blasting horn, and I have not experienced a single moment of atmospheric silence since arriving last week. It’s exhausting.
I think back to growing up here, and of how I seemingly heard next to nothing of this racket. Or, more to the point, I heard it but it did not register. I was deaf to the noise; my subconscious automatically tuned it out. My thoughts were rarely interrupted by incessant city sounds and I probably even found some tribal reassurance in them, as my senses were swathed 24/7 in the utterances of civilization. I was not alone, even if I was alone.
I enjoy being alone. The utter silence around my home on the far other edge of this continent swaddles my psyche in a different way, allowing my own thoughts and sounds to appear within my head. The photo above, taken from a ferry at dusk a couple of weeks ago, contrasts the noise that accompanies me as I type this. And for further contrast, I’ve chosen a clip of some very active chamber music that makes a joyous noise, to me at least. An unabashed reminder that my life encompasses the full spectrum of frequencies with some frequency. A dichotomy to which I am not inured in the least.