Noises Off

Yesterday, we took a Sunday drive, did a little shopping in anticipation of the coming snowstorm, and enjoyed a short walk. Coming home, we parked at the local post office here in Youngsville, NY. Beth remained in the truck and I went inside to check our PO Box. Coming back, I noticed something worth mentioning.

“You’ve gotta come out here,” I said to Beth. She opened her door and stepped outside.

“Hear that?” I asked. “Nothing. Not a sound. Right?”

Beth smiled and nodded her head. For that brief moment, there were no sounds at all – no cars, machines, not even the sound of a stoplight (we don’t have one in Youngsville). It was twilight and the earth felt like it was standing still.

Absolute silence is a rare thing in the towns and cities where we’ve owned a home or an apartment, but it’s very common in the rural places we’ve visited on the Adventure. As I’ve talked about previously, the traffic and general hullabaloo of cities upset my central nervous system. Conversely, there’s something about the sound of silence that brings me peace.

As a boy living in suburban New York, I must have been accustomed to the constant hum of activity. At home, there was always someone talking, yelling or singing, at least one television playing, the hum of the refrigerator or the bell signaling that the ice cream man was approaching. At school, there were kids laughing, lockers banging shut, bells ringing, and the thump, thump, thump of basketballs in the gym. In town, we had the sounds of cars, motorcycles and delivery trucks plus rows and rows of stores, their neon signs and display windows vying for my attention. In short, life was an abundance of sight and sound and these were the dominant sensory inputs whenever I was awake and wherever I went.

That’s the reason why Youngsville and other less-populated places have become so appealing to me. Here, we’ve got more deer than people, one restaurant instead of one on every corner and a post office employee who knows my name. Truth is, I never would have known that there was an alternative to what I grew up with had we not taken the Adventure.

Fortunately, I have learned how to move from one environment to the other and back again. With some practice, I have learned that I can be a country mouse who doesn’t go crazy when he finds himself in the city. This is good because there are lots of things I like in the cities – friends, clients and places to enjoy that aren’t available in tiny towns like Youngsville.

Time will tell if we want to sustain this dual existence or whether we will need to make a choice. Until then, I’ll try and find the charm within the chaos and the solace within the silence.

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