I enjoy my quiet time because I am a quiet person. My favorite thing to do is curl up on my couch cushion and listen to the silence settle in around me.
But then that silence is interrupted by the sound of the microwave turning on, plates clattering together, the sink running, someone singing or talking to themselves, the refrigerator door slamming, a phone going off, that person then talking on their phone while sucking the food out of their teeth, smacking, snapping, sniffing, coughing, scratching and cracking their knuckles.
Then they stand over me and see that I’m trying to write, nap or just be alone for a few moments out of the day and ask:
“Am I being too loud?”
If you are making any type of noise then yes, you are being too loud.I used to work in the living room, snuggling into my favorite spot on the couch and writing with my laptop keeping my lap warm. I could spend hours in this spot and do homework without any interruptions, my mother keeping to herself upstairs and watching her shows after a long day of work. We reached an understanding that we love each other but sometimes we just want to be left alone to settle and be at peace with ourselves.
Then everything changed. My father’s job transferred him back to their office in Philadelphia, we got a dog and I took my writing more seriously. You ever meet someone who, for the life of them, can’t sit still? That everything they do, even breathing, some kind of sound emits from their body? That’s my Dad who suffers from a constant dry face no matter how much moisturizer he puts on it so he is always scratching. Any sound sent the dog barking (unfortunately he passed away in December 2015) then my mom would start yelling for someone to take the dog out to stop the barking.
So obviously I can’t ask my family to stop making noise so I can focus on my writing. Though I did wish there was a universal mute button. Somehow I managed to get my writing done, finding the quiet through the noise. I would write outside with my dog milling about in the yard until he became old and always wanted someone close by. Challenging to write with a dog laying on your foot (he was a fat dachshund so his entire body took up my entire foot). His warmth and girth always put my foot to sleep which would creep up my leg until I just had to move. Then he’d throw a fit as if I’ve disturbed him from an extremely important breakthrough.
Hello? I’m a writer and aren’t you supposed to be man’s best friend? A little support would be nice!
Sometimes my Dad would hide away upstairs until I was finished with my homework but that didn’t really work either. I would listen to my parents discussing television shows or getting into arguments over which [insert basketball or baseball team here] was their favorite and why. I don’t even like sports but found myself distracted by their heated debate.
Then, change number two happened. My Dad came home one day without my dog, still at the kennel because we had just come back from a trip the day before. He had a tumor growing in his mouth which would slowly prevent him from eating but even if we had gotten the tumor removed there was nothing we could do about the stage 4 lung cancer. That same day, my Dad and I went to the vet and said goodbye to my little fat noise maker who whined the entire time and scratched at the door.
That’s all I can really say about that.
Time blends together after that. I don’t know when I got the phone call but I’m pretty sure it was after the passing of my dog because I would have told him and done a lap around the house outside, moving slow enough so he could waddle beside me so more like a speed walk around the house. I got into the low-residency program and would be taking the steps to earn my MFA which inevitably meant that I would need even more quiet then before.
As a congratulatory gift, my mother cleaned out the office connected to the laundry room my dog once slept as my work space. All her books, the ones I’ve collected throughout the years and the few books that catch my father’s eye but he has yet to read adorn the walls. My father’s old work desk with his name tag are now a part of my work space along with my super comfy work chair and cork board wall which I had planned to use for story ideas but then my mom decorated it with her yarn dream catchers instead.
There is still noise. In the summer I will have to focus while my father mows the lawn or works on his cars, my mother rattling the pans in the kitchen or doing laundry but its the one noise that I don’t hear that bothers me the most. My foot always stays awake now, the dead feeling no longer creeping up my leg or that small head poking through the door way as if asking permission to come sit beside me. The jingle of metal tags as they slap together or the panting and gentle sigh of a dog, content with laying in the lap of its owner despite her trying to use her own lap as a desk. The sounds he made weren’t vexing. Actually, they were one of the only sounds I didn’t find vexing and miss to this day because they all meant something whether to take him out, where are you when we would play hide and seek together or why did you stop petting me?
Or the sound of him growling while shredding a paragraph I just finished writing for class to pieces. My toughest critique.
So alone in my office I sit, writing stories that I hope to one day contribute to supporting me in the future along for the enjoyment of it. I also hope that one day, these moments of ongoing silence will be shared with another furry friend whether chinchilla, fox or the assortment of dog breeds that I love.
Though none will ever be like Scooter, the supposedly (but not really) miniature short haired dachshund who arrived like a hurricane and left like the cool breezes he enjoyed so much on a hot summers day.
This post is in response to the Blogging from A to Z Challenge.