There’s a dog at the neighbors making a noise. When I first heard it, pre-coffee and still half-asleep, I walked to the back door and only realized it wasn’t our girl wanting in out of the back yard when she came up to my feet and sat down expectantly looking up at me and waiting for me to clip her lead on. I’m still not, after two years, fully adjusted to living in town with all the sounds that it entails. The other day I was working – or maybe yesterday – and I had a TV show playing to give me background noise, when suddenly I realized that the sirens were not from the show, but were right there… and then they dopplered on by, but it took me a minute to relax again. And although the monthly tornado siren test doesn’t – quite– make me jump anymore, I used to practice my levitation every first Wednesday of the month at noon.

Once we get used to sounds, like smells, you can tune them out. The brain is marvelous in it’s ability to sieve out the unnecessary information from our daily lives. Can you imagine if it didn’t? We are constantly bombarded by input, and we’d be overwhelmed in no time. It’s only if I sit here and really think about it that I can be aware of the sounds that embed themselves in the fabric of my daily existence. The whirring on the First Reader’s computer fan. The distant rumbling of trucks on the main road. But an unfamiliar sound, now that, I can’t ignore. Last night the dog was dreaming, and making these funny whuffly yips in her sleep. As she was lying on my bedside rug, I was very aware of her, and even though I knew it wasn’t a problem, I still couldn’t sleep until she finally stopped dreaming.

Other sounds make me twitch. I was with my Dad at a living history museum a few summers back, in garb, and playing at time travel back to the 1750s. I always enjoy that, and talking to people about life then while staying in character and time is a fun game. I don’t have the depth of knowledge he does, but I can manage when talking about, say, beekeeping and candle making or simply what we were doing that day which was remaking tent poles and setting his canvas tent up for shade. But as we were enjoying the tent and watching the lady next to us slowly transform flax from plant to linen cloth, I became aware of a sound I simply could not ignore. A baby was shrieking. Now, there are many reasons babies cry. Wet diaper, want to be held, just unhappy in life. But this was the high, thin wail of a child who was stressed – I heard it as hungry – and I started to physically twitch a little. Then I overheard the parents saying they would offer her a little water in a bottle, and I headed for the other side of the fort to walk in the gardens. It wasn’t my place to take that mother and shake her, telling her ‘the child is starving, for the love of god FEED IT!’

But now I hear the sound of my alarm telling me to gather my books and bag for school. I’m off to another day of studies, and the familiar sounds of chatter in the hallways. I wonder if I will miss that when I leave school again? It’s taken me a long time to adjust to that, too. I must be getting old if I’m having trouble with changes!


One response to “Sounds”

  1. Reality Observer Avatar
    Reality Observer

    Amazing what we can adapt to. I don’t even notice the sirens going by, since we’re on a major route for the fire station to take for responses to problems in this corner of town.

    On the other hand, we’ve lived within a mile of the local AFB since 1987. After 9/11, nobody in the house could sleep well, and we were jittery all day long. I attributed that, rationally, to the FUD after the attack – then the AFB started up regular operations again, and we all slept like non-hungry babies with that “normal” noise.