By Koren Frankfort
It happens when you can hear your footsteps keeping time to your life's rhythm, when you hear the colliding branches as the hi-hat and the wind on strings. It was quiet the moment I realized that I would 1be a song writer. There wasn't a lousy, nasal woman singing a song about how she's a slave for you. No honking horns. No dog barking. No kids tagging the others "it." Nothing but cold air on my face and a clear winter sky displaying the Pleiades, Orion, The Big and Little dippers through the tops of the Montclair chestnut trees - as only can happen in winter - when the night sky is clearest and the stars are brightest. It was so quiet that I could hear myself think.
When one sense isn't stimulated, the others become more awakened: sight, smell, taste, touch, hearing … Common. The smoke from my neighbors' chimney made the frozen, crispness of the air warmer. The raccoons scurried around outside my sight. It was so quiet. The breath in front of my face swirled in the air. The street light buzzed and lit the street with a stutter in an eerie shade of blue.
I knew no one else was there because their foot steps would have betrayed them; they would have clacked on the ground and crunched in the snow. I appreciated the quiet, it felt protective.
"I'm going to write songs," I thought.
Quiet does to epiphany as the sun does to photosynthesis2. Quiet catalyzes understanding and makes the snow twinkle a bit more and is the only upside to insomnia. Quiet is also underappreciated; it's often the only thing that gets one to realize the nature of vastness. The sky wouldn't be as dark without it. The stars would have gone unnoticed. The burning wood smell would've been dissolved and a stranger's foot steps would have still been stealthily had it not been quiet.
One morning it was quiet. The sun was rising and I had just brewed a fresh pot of coffee. No one else was awake yet. My couch faces east with a view of dawn over the deck at my apartment. I had a design class in an hour and a half. The sky glowed pink and purple and peach. No cars disturbed the streets yet, but the garbage trucks beeped. The birds were chirping more than they normally do; I thought that it may be because the seasons were turning. The drafts whistled through the north-east corner of the flat. My coffee was perfect; it smelled so good. The cold wood floors creaked as I paced around my sculpture3. It took me several hours to make, but it was very small.
My cat's feet pitter pattered, but I never saw them do it. I added the color peach to my assignment due that morning; the quiet allowed me a moment free of noisy distractions so that I could appreciate dawn and I thanked it … silently and then the house began to stir.
My 6 year-old God daughter came out from her room. She rubbed her eyes. She yawned. Her black, ringlet hair was in two disheveled braids. Her feet were wiggling in her pink terry cloth slippers. Little specks of crusty drool stuck to her sweet face.
"Good morning, Kore," she yawned. Her tinker bell thermal was a bit small. Her belly was showing because of her early morning posture: part stretched, part standing and part collapsed backwards with elbows towards the sky. She rubbed the night gunk from her big brown eyes.
"Good morning, Eva bugalicious," I replied. I touched her cheek with my finger. "Are you gonna have oatmeal?"
My roommate, her father, came out from his room with perfect timing and scuffled his feet towards the kitchen. His dreads dangled in front of his nose. He had crusty drool on his face too.
"Morning, Kore. Morning, little bug," he said as he shoved me out of the way as gently as he could. Eva got a kiss. I was not at all jealous.
Stef came out from her and Aaron's room and kissed her eventually-to-be-step-daughter on the fore head. "Coffee?" she muttered.
"In the kitchen," I replied halfway through her starting in the direction of our Mr. Coffee.
The kettle whistled. The TV was turned on and the volume was turned up. Robin Meade was on CNN again. I considered the possibility that her gloss was MAC brand and have no recollection of what it was she had to say. Eva yelled out about the absence of matching socks. Stef couldn't find her keys. Aaron's metal ringtone rang. The word "dude" was said many times.
Quiet was done for the day; cars, beeping, bickering, banter, bullshit and media have all replaced it.
I assembled my things and put my sneakers on; I didn't bother changing out of my PJs. I looked outside. I missed the moment peach color left the sky; now it was blue. Aaron served Eva oatmeal and needed help finding socks for Eva from Stef. Stef was pissed.
Without saying anything to my roommates, I got in my car and fastened the safety belt around my sculpture so it wouldn't get hurt. I had to warm up my car because my car sucks in the typical ways that a car older than ten years would. I turned on the radio. Someone was talking about Jay-Z and Beyonce's love life. I switched the station. A girl was rapping about her lip gloss. I switched the station. Britney Spears's kids. Switched! The Wall. Good, but too early. Switched. Jazz? No, people talking about Jazz. Off.
The belt on my car was making a screeching noise and the engine rumbled. I cursed. A lot. Then I left.
People honked at the teenagers walking in the street. I got to class and the "prof" was keen on ripping new assholes all around. On break, the line in the C store was long. I just wanted
another cup of coffee. There were so many conversations that no words could be overheard, but yet I could hear everyone at once. I got impatient and left to get in my screeching corolla. It was too noisy, especially for the morning.4 That sunrise sure was nice.