Monday, June 15, 2015

45, 44, 43, days, then 49: Quiet (Started June 12, 2015; Finished June 15)

Noise. Sometimes I feel like The Grinch, railing against the noise, Noise, NOISE, NOISE!! NOISE!!!

I'm an English teacher and I actually think it would be weird if my classroom were quiet most the time. Part of the study of language is speaking. And speak they do. More than I want, but it's important. And noisy.

My daughter is a talker. Last year, when I still worked 30 minutes from home, she would spend our drives telling me how she was going to stop talking so much.

"Mommy, I talk a lot right? I'm not going to talk anymore. See I can be quiet. Mommy? Did you hear what I said? I can be quiet. What are we having for dinner? Oh yeah, I'm suppose to be quiet. I can be quiet."

For the entire drive. 30 minutes. Then we get home, and she talks until bedtime.

My husband is a talker too. Well, sometimes. He's not an every day, every minute talker like his daughter. When he gets going, however, he can talk for hours. He's a binge talker.

I welcome verbal interactions with them because they are my loves, but I sometimes miss the peace of living alone. At night, when they sleep, I sit on the couch and gulp down the quiet as if I will never have it again.

I don't think I just want quiet. I need it. Without a daily dose of silence, I get/stay moody. Angry, sad, nervous, anxious. The sounds buzz and bump around in my head, crawl from the nape of my neck to the forehead and vibrant behind my eyes. It's painful and if I can't find some peace, I lash out. As I get older, the more I seek out noiseless situations and the less likely I am to find them.

When I was teaching middle school, I would arrive early and use that time in class before students were allowed to come in to get my mind ready for the day. It helped me work through my natural shyness and lack of confidence. By the time they arrive, I'm like Joe Gideon in "All That Jazz"--"It's show time!"

Unfortunately, high school students are free range and can often be found sitting outside my class waiting for me to arrive. They like to talk to me because I listen. In those moments before school starts, I find out about their home lives, their outside interests, their fears. Students also stop by after school and talk to me. Those times are valuable and help to continue to remember that I am not teaching English. I am teaching kids. But I miss the quiet.

So, when I come home from school, I sometimes sit in the driveway for 10 minutes before going in. During the last week of school, I almost made it to 30 minutes one day. I couldn't shake the day off and was not prepared to face my family.

When I was young, I used to hang out underneath the coffee table and read my books. Our duplex was so small that I shared a room with my brother until I was 11, then shared a bed with my mom until I was 17. You can only hang out in the bathroom for so long before people start to wonder about your health. I was 19 year old before I had my own room and got a chance to retreat from other people's sounds.

When my last roommate moved out after getting married, I had an apartment by myself for about 3 years. Whole weekends would pass and I wouldn't have spoken to anyone. I didn't really feel lonely. I was rid of the stress of talking and interacting with people.

For the first year of my marriage, my husband would say that he didn't know what I was thinking, that I kept everything in. My long silence was a hard habit to break.

So I push through the comfort of quiet and I interact with people and think I do a pretty good job of feigning comfort.

And at night, when everyone is asleep, I sit silently on my couch, healing from the pain of all day assaults on my solitude, and rearming my senses for another day of noise.


  1. May you receive quiet, rest, peace many times over this summer. May you plug in and be powerfully recharged.

  2. May you receive quiet, rest, peace many times over this summer. May you plug in and be powerfully recharged.