Saturday, November 17, 2007

Ringing the Changes

I moved house. And things are different. I divined this thanks to my amazing powers of observation, with which I've been busy cataloging the alterations. These alterations start with the supine position I've been forced to assume with regard to the necessity of motorized transportation, and move on to the sulfurous taste of the tap water, the trucks rusting in the neighbors' backyards, and the constant stream of ragged, blue-lipped men levering themselves into the phone booth on the corner.

What it took me a while to notice, though, is that it's not only my visual environment and daily activities that have shifted; it's my entire aural universe. Sound crawls to the finish line leagues behind sight. Its waves are lazy; it lacks light's passionate burst of speed. So it's no wonder that I've been slow to pick out the noises -small, fat, sharp, and continuous- that make up my new world. After my first full week, I've barely begun.

Here's what I used to hear: the asthmatic rumble of inefficient heating and cooling, the ecstatic yelps of the downstairs neighbor, the screech of cars careening into one another at the corner of Atwater and Henderson, the relentless rustling of the dumpster divers, the 3:00 AM drunken baying of young scholars.

Now I hear trains. Train after train, streaking its way through the cold, clear air. Also the incessant scritching of squirrels, the neighbor tickling her children, someone working on a roof three doors down. The particular rumble a sizeable truck makes driving on a brick road; the hum of the four-lane street a block away.

And church bells. Every hour on the hour, more on feast days, often ten minutes at a stretch. Calling me, if not to worship, than at least to attention.

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