The sound of silence

Each house has it's own distinct sounds, don't you think?

I remember being a little girl, lying on the bed in the childhood room of my mother, and hearing the traffic a few blocks away. It was loud in the mornings, a rush and blur. The sound of my grandmother's cat, padding up the stairs or meowing in the backyard. The sizzle of the eggs and bacon in the morning, the murmurs of my grandparents in the kitchen, talking over the morning news pouring out of the small black and white tv on a tv cart. In the evenings, the sound of the Yankees playing in the den, or my grandmother scraping the ground in her garden.

Later, growing up in my own childhood home, the sounds were much sharper: the sound of the Simpsons playing on the TV, my mother drying her hair, my father's voice rising up from the living room. My music was always on, no matter the hour. Kids yelling, playing, screeching on the block. Someone always bouncing a basketball across the street. At night, crickets and doves sang together.

At some point, the sounds changed in my childhood home. My mother left, and I had to buy my own hairdryer. My father's tears, rage, sadness. My brother's anger, fear, and arguments.

I wish I only remembered good sounds.

The first home I owned with my hubby was about less than a quarter of a mile away from railroad tracks. A small municipal airport backed up to our house. Trains wailed all hours of the day and night. Plane engines lulled me. The sound of the dogs' nails on the wood floors. The icemaker always made noise at night. Sleeping with the windows open in the Spring afforded us the sounds of our neighbors comings and goings: squeaky brakes, car doors slamming, the grind of the garage door opening, dogs barking, and voices of welcome.
I still miss the trains.

When we moved to Springtown (which I've written about a ton here), it was so quiet. Hubby and I laid in bed at night and marvelled at the silence. No trains, no planes. Every once in awhile, a car would speed down the country road in front of our house.
It was an old house, older than both of us. It creaked. Mice scratched as they ran in the walls. Insulation moved with the mice.
We got cows. And then we began learning the sound of the cows outside our windows. Mooing, running, munching the hay by our back door. The dog down the street barked at every car that drove down the county road. The people across the street got donkeys, and they were very vocal. Paco, the only male, was so outnumbered, by non-affectionate females. He hee-hawed non-stop, all the time. I would open the door and yell to him "Hey Paco-I'll give you lovin' if you JUST.SHUT.UP."
At night, there were coyotes howling, Paco hee-hawing, crickets and locusts and other bugs. The frogs were so incredibly loud-the pond was right outside our back door. There was a rooster somewhere up the hill that started in about 4am. And then the chickens joined. And random dogs barking, always. The laundry room light buzzed. Birds constantly built nests on both the front and back porches, so squawking and tweeting was the norm.
Eventually, the county road got busier. Cars sped down that road all the time- That became the train sound for us. The wind blowing through the ancient pecan tree was waves crashing on the shore. The wind created a soundtrack there.

This was my girl's first home. It was filled with her giggles, her cries, her first words, her noisy toys, her snores.

The house we just sold: more dog nails on wood floors, traffic speeding by so close, bullfrogs and swamp things competing for space in my backyard. When we didn't hear traffic, we worried. Donkeys half a mile away from here, so we hear the hee-hawing again; I love it. The dogs snored more in this house; they are aging. My girl's words, her giggles, her full-on sentences. Phineas & Ferb, Charlie & Lola, The First 48, Deadliest Catch. All the doors in this house squeaked, especially the pantry. The -click- of the sprinkler system, followed by the spray of the water. The constant running of the toilet bowl in our bathroom. The creak of the garage door. The dryer constantly tumbling & thumping.

When that house flooded, we moved into an empty house in our neighborhood. Tinkerbell's movie, crickets on the back porch, my brother's muffled music pouring down the stairs, water running through the pipes in the ceiling.

Now that we have sold our house, we are living in another empty house in our neighborhood. I sit here in my living room, and I hear quiet sounds: Daisy's even breathing, Max's snores, scenes of a show I'm not watching. The walls don't creak; the doors don't squeak. The fridge doesn't cycle. I can't hear the donkeys, unless I'm outside. My neighbors are silent: one is never home, the other deceased. The doors -ding- when they are opened: sometimes, the door leading to the garage opens on it's own. A woodpecker gets stuck in the high ceiling of the front porch. I often find him on the back porch, pecking the stone fireplace, after he's worn himself out flapping on the front porch. The leaves get caught up in the wind by the garage, swirling 'round and 'round; my eyes cross if I watch too long.

My girl is scared in this house. She says she hears things. She's never slept upstairs before. I lie in her bed with her, all hours of the night, and strain my ears for something, anything, that would equal fear. Silence.

We fill the silence with words, jokes, silly songs, & the classical station. I find myself trying to fill the silence in this house often. It doesn't feel like home. It is too quiet.


Janie Woods said...

It'll get broke inand feel like home soon...Our house is like waking in an aviary in the summer--any bird imaginable in the backyard. Never silent with the kids and dogs. Funny you mentioned water through the pipes, I go to sleep with the sound of the water running through the basboard heat from our boiler. It's like having a fountain in our bedroom.

linlah said...

The sound of a train is one I would miss also.

Sarah said...

aww this made me think of all the places I have lived and all the noises that made it home. Beautiful writing.

TUWABVB said...

How could you ever leave Paco! That was so funny. What a great post - you have an amazing memory.

Anonymous said...

I too loved the sounds of my childhood home. And now I love the sounds of my family home especially the sound of giggles and fun being had.

Your new house will soon be filled with lots of family sound, maybe you are just listening too loudly.

Chris said...

I absolutely love this post- the writing makes me feel as if I am in each house with you.

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