Sunday mornings were always lovely before I retired. Generally only on Sunday morning could I sleep late, since Saturdays were often for errands that couldn’t get done during the week.
Now, I don’t usually set the alarm clock at all unless I have an appointment to keep. Sundays, though, are still quite special.
Most people who live near me still work, so on Mondays through Fridays they must wake up and get to work. This means that though I can lie in, they can’t, and thus as they leave for work, their cars provide a steady background of motor sounds. Not all cars sound the same, so the sounds vary. Often during the week, other sounds add to the mix — the heavier rumble of the garbage truck, for example, or of lawnmowers and trimmers. Occasionally horns pipe into the atmosphere.
As the day goes on, bells and sirens join the noises that populate the area. Radios or CD players turned up to maximum volume not only blare music but their turned-up bass often sends vibrations through my floor. I can feel the pumping, throbbing both in my ears and through my body.
On Sundays, though, as this morning, it’s usually quite different. No one will be out too early mowing or trimming. So nothing really stands out.
Rather, I awaken slowly, aware of little other than my own breathing and the snuffling of my dogs. The rhythmic slap of the fan blades softly rotates above me. As I turn to my side, the sheets rasp a bit, barely audible. If the sheets are crisp, as they were this morning, the sound is sharper than it is after the sheets are softer, a few days on the bed.
If I want, I can simply roll back over and allow myself to drift back into the dream state.
So it went this morning, as I drifted into and out of dreams, into and out of consciousness. Slowly, slowly, I allowed myself to surface fully.
Once I waken, I lie there, just feeling the luxury of my body nestled into the mattress, my head resting in its hollow in a pillow. My eyelids flutter open and closed, light entering my awareness, further waking me up. When I’m ready, I’ll open my eyes and look around me. The dogs are still curled on the bed, one at my hip and one often on the pillow behind me. Homer, the cat, lies on her back with one paw thrown over her eyes, not unlike my own position at times.
When I’m ready, I begin to engage with the world. No sounds, still, other than breaths and fan blades and sheets rustling. Not until I reach over and grab my phone and then my iPad mini and sit up, disturbing the pets perhaps, and prop up on the pillows against the wall behind the bed.
Now other sounds come: the click of the phone slide as I push it to open my phone and check email. The metallic snick as I lift the cover from the iPad mini.
As I click on newspapers and other websites, mechanical sounds multiply. I am awake, in the world, but still without many sounds. No television. No music. No voices.
Then the dogs awaken too, and Homer. Their morning yelps and barks and meows require me to engage in two-way conversations, at last.
Silence is broken. But gently.
At this point, I’m still cocooned. The silence and then the soft sounds that follow it calm me, comfort me, soothe me. Sometimes, I simply stay home all day without any television or radio, without talking to anyone other than the pets. Those are the days when I can regain some balance, blocking out the cacophony that too often bombards me once I’m outside the doors.
This afternoon, when I left to meet my friend Myra at McDonald’s so that her three-year-old could play while we visited and worked on jewelry, was a reminder of how much cacophony really disturbs my concentration. And my calm. There we sat, and two or three minutes later entered several other young boys — a couple of them clearly more than three years old (the limit for the climbing tubes). Yet they proceeded to climb up and scoot down.
And to raise the decibel level beyond belief. They yelled. They shouted. They squealed. Four young voices in tandem, pitched at a painful level for the other (adult) people in the play area. It was amusing at first; I forget just how inventive young children can be in calling each other names. Nothing vulgar, just kind of funny. But then the shouting and yelling and squealing escalated. The parents of the other kids seemed to have simply vanished — they certainly didn’t call their boys to behave better, as Myra frequently reminded her son to do.
No, they just continued to disturb us. My head hurt before too long. My ears actually ached with certain pitches. I realized that I flinched at times.
I have no idea how long that went on. It felt as though it lasted for hours, though I know it was less than an hour. Then a little girl entered the room, and the volume immediately dropped. Interesting development, to say the least.
Once the volume lowered and the squealing diminished, I stopped hunching and flinching and found myself relaxing again.
When they all left, though, I was glad. The very air itself stopped vibrating around us almost immediately.
Once I returned home, I sought out more silence. I was only ready for Sunday night television about two hours ago. My ears still needed a bit of a rest.
Now, I’m aware of the television in the room beyond the office. There’s clock ticking on the desk behind me as I type. Outside, there’s a sort of background hum from traffic; I can’t hear that from my bedroom.
Tomorrow I’m sure I’ll get out, visit with friends, talk a lot. There’ll be chatter in the coffeeshop around me. I’ll hear the traffic noises from Ryan Street on a work day.
Tonight, though, I’m savoring my quiet space. I’m ready to turn off the television and wind down with some reading before I turn off the light and go to sleep.
Once more, the sounds will soften to breaths and to fan blades. I’ll sleep well.