I was always the quiet one in the relationship, my husband was the Chatty Cathy. Now the house is quiet, too quiet. For instance I never knew that the clock on the wall ticked. We've had that clock for over 10 years and I never heard it until now. In fact it's gotten so loud it actually wakes me up at night.
I tried talking to the four footed furry brigade, and although their tails wag appreciatively to the sound of my voice, the fact that they're also running from empty food bowl to empty food bowl searching for any food that was left behind tells me that they weren't really interested in my conversation.
I do have a Siamese cat that talks, but he generally has only three sounds, one that says ‘feed me’, one that says ‘pet me’, and one that says ‘I really do not like the puppy chewing on my tail.’ So the subject matter I can have in any vocalization with him is extremely limited.
Because I work from home and often don’t have any phone conversations with anyone, I can go days and only utter about three words.
I find myself listening a lot, and I am becoming aware of all the many little sounds that permeate through the house. Sounds that were there the entire time. The hot water heater turning on in the little room outside. The fans blowing and oscillating. The clicking of the keyboard as I type. I can hear the refrigerator running, the coffee brewing in the morning. The whir of my computer fan.
But mostly I hear the silence. I feel it pressing against me, surrounding me. It muffles around my ears and becomes so thick I am loathe to break it.
Before I met my husband, I used to live alone and I don’t remember the silence being so loud. So over powering. So oppressive.
I find my thoughts bubbling over with words that will never be said. Little comments that I would normally tell my husband about something that I saw or heard. Little comments that really weren’t important, but just observations of that moment. Little comments that are forever lost because they are never spoken out loud and the moment had passed.
I turn on the TV, the radio, my iPod, anything to thwart the silence and it works for a while, but eventually I have to turn them off and the silence rushes in again, like water suddenly released from a dam.
When the silence reigns, my mind turns inward, scrutinizing my every thought both past and present. My memories come to the fore. Some good, some bad. It’s as if my life were on replay.
Often times I can direct those memories, shying away from anything I really don’t want to remember, and relishing the ones I do.
But I can feel my mind poking the bad ones, testing their potency, their ability to harm and disrupt my peace of mind. It brushes against my worst one, the reason why there is silence, and then runs scurrying away as if burned.
Before I met my husband, I wasn’t very sociable. I’ve always been the awkward one, the tongue tied one. The social misfit. My humor was too dry, my observations too cryptic. I would often send out a remark that caused people around me to stop and stare. My brain is just wired differently and I see the world around me in an odd light.
But with my husband, I was free to speak my mind. He understood what I was trying to say, no matter how convoluted it was. I became used to being heard. I spoke more when he was around, I felt confident, more secure. I could speak without being judged. I didn't realize until now how much I spoke with him.
With my husband as a role model, I made friends - good friends. I learned what it was like to be part of a group of people with the same interests. I joined in conversations. I learned how to integrate into society. I was no longer the one that would go to a party and end up in the corner petting the host’s cat for the whole evening.
I know that I could pick up the phone and give anyone of them a call and just talk about whatever comes to mind. And it is that thought that keeps me from starring in a remake of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.
Eventually I will become accustomed to the silence again. In the meantime, I’ll keep trying to converse with the four footed furry brigade, respond appropriately to my cat and give a friend or family member a call when the silence becomes too loud.