Tuesday, January 03, 2012

I drank sound soup today for lunch, meandering among the houses surrounding the place I work, grazing along Imperial Highway for whatever auditory hors d'ouvres might be left on the buffet table of city life. I've long neglected this table; often I commute to and from work as if I am commuting from one building to another, all the while fast-tracking past the life that is in between. It is a survival skill in a setting like this; I cannot imagine actually trying to remember each noise, each voice, each honk, whistle and scrape; I cannot fathom the multitude of faces I pass, the scenes I see played out along my path. And yet, I feel I have somehow denied the personality of place and time by tuning everything out all together.
So today I tucked in my mental napkin, and cut my way around the block, just listening for life. It is amazing how much we fast from, whether intentionally or not. Rustling leaves crowded the sidewalk, their hush swishing greeting my every step, like a crowd admonishing my own noise in case I awoke something I was not supposed to. Yet for all their whispers, leaf blowers blared by, like loud brazen beasts, groaning for attention, laying waste to the civilized piles gathered in the gutter.
I picked at a plate of sounds at a traffic stop, some slippery cell phone conversation, which I can't say I cared much for, and the throat clearing of car exhausts; a dog's bark peppered the whole affair, seeming like a spice that didn't go with the dish being served, and then I turned down a side street for an unexpected dessert...
There must have been chirps and squeaks, and the general noise of life in any city, even the small ones. But underneath it all, in that corner of my restaurant, the sweetness of nothing graced my palate, its ghostly, delectable taste lingering just a moment...then gone.
As my course sloped back toward my office, my ears tasted the air for it again, but much like that perfectly balanced dish, the quiet eluded me, one of those things you try to describe to friends, but simply cannot. As I entered my office building, my mind ultimately turned back to the roughage of the day. I suppose I will have to eat there again sometime.

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