I awoke this afternoon from a midday nap to total quiet. It was the kind of quiet that is so empty, you can hear the high-pitched, whispered whine that your ears register when nothing louder than air bends the hairs in your ear canals. There is no quiet like the quiet of midday. Unlike the appropriate quiet of night, it feels hollow and anxious, like a child who has stumbled into a room where adults are talking only to have the conversation drop.
The quiet says I don’t belong here.
I don’t belong here. I don’t belong in this bed in the middle of the day, exhausted from an elixir of medical procedures, broken sleep, and pain. Now that I have awakened, I can find no position that doesn’t make something hurt. The numbing medication from this morning’s nerve ablation has temporarily cleared the pain from my right shoulder blade, but now the soreness of my neck and accessory shoulder muscles is petulantly demanding a hearing. Petulant or not, there isn’t much to it – it lacks the burning, stinging insistent of the nerve pain – but it’s still enough to pull me out of bed. I start making noise on purpose, the cupboard doors, the glass on the counter. I leave the fridge open while I pour water from the pitcher so the cooler clicks on. But the quiet, large and heavy, is obstinate; it will take more than a few pitiful kitchen noises to displace it.
Daytime quiet feels like sickness. It reminds me that I am unwell, that I must stay here, at home, alone, so I don’t overexert myself and exacerbate my injury, or worse, get so used up while I’m out that I must wade through a haze of pain in order to get back.
What I wouldn’t give for someone to talk to. I used to like living alone, but lately I’ve grown away from that feeling. I find myself wishing for a noisy roommate, watching TV, turning on the shower, clattering dishes in the sink, slamming the front door on her way in or out. But the only person who makes those sounds is me. My roommates are cats, themselves silent, unobtrusive occupants, snoozing on the furniture. The quiet doesn’t bother them.
No cars go by. Everyone in my building and on my street likely works during the day. It feels like I am the only person for miles around. I never realized how much other people reaffirm our personhood. Without out them to reflect me, I feel like I am fading away, and it scares me. I don’t want to fade. I want to be realized again, to have my agency back. This blog, a tiny voice barely distinguishable in the cacophony of the internet, is my agency, even if it’s only over my thoughts. Here, when someone comes to listen, I am heard. Here I am loud and bright and real.