Sunday, April 9, 2017
Matters of Population Density
This past weekend, I went home--or at least, home as I knew it for the first 18 years of my life. It occurred to me earlier in the day, when I was out running errands, that it’s been 11 years since I graduated from high school and moved away to college, 11 years since I really lived there… and even though it is and always will be “home” wherever I’m currently living, in a way, I’ve been slowly becoming more aware of the distance, the time that has passed, how different it all looks.
After all, I’ve been living in the city for over two years now and I’ve grown accustomed to this lifestyle of mine, the existence of an urban dweller commuting to work in the suburbs, of falling asleep to the sound of his breathing and the always awake, always living, city outside the walls of our one bedroom apartment. It’s like falling asleep to the television, the constant hum of the streets below, even at 3 in the morning.
Last night, falling asleep in the bedroom I inhabited when I was a teenager, the last space I kept as my own before I moved away to college, it was so quiet that I could hear my own heartbeat. The world outside my mom and dad’s house, the house where I grew up, was silent. It was so quiet that when I was young, I had to listen to the radio to fall asleep. My dad had set it to turn off after a certain period of time, which was usually after I had entered into dreamland, but I just could not sleep without it. Eventually, this was less of an issue (and I mean, let’s be honest, eventually, when I was 17, 18, the radio was just replaced with the sound of a boy’s voice, or any one of my friends, staying up late gossiping with me on the other end of a telephone) and I just embraced the silence. Until I moved to Edgewater, and now I welcome the low frequency vibrations of the city as my own white noise soundtrack.
Laying there in the total darkness in that room (the same place where I got ready on our wedding day) I dozed off and just listened to the sound of my own breathing. I was curled up in the middle of the queen sized bed, falling asleep, when the phone rang--my husband, saying goodnight. I wasn’t sure if I was dreaming or not but when I hung up the phone it was so quiet that it almost woke me up even more… and in that moment, I felt so small, so aware of the solitary plane I was existing in. The world was, is endless, and even in that moment I was merely along for the ride. (Practical matters of population density notwithstanding, it was probably the most alone I have been in months and it felt strangely exhilarating if not a little terrifying and exciting.)
All this to say… I am glad I will always have a place to come home to. That bedroom will always be mine, those walls will always be home; even if the nearby towns change beyond recognition, I’ll always know the way around by heart. Even if it looks less familiar than it used to. But… there’s something familiar about the Kennedy Expressway on a Friday night, an arrival back into the city, wrapped up in that familiar rhythm and melody. In the city it is as if I am wrapped up in a cocoon of energy--that which flows through the wide open spaces and the starry skies of my childhood home in miniature (but still no less kinetic). Oh, I love them both equally. But here, too, I am home.