Inevitable Sound

My musician friend compliments people’s voices. She comments on lower and higher registers, on properties of sounds I don’t listen to. I get caught up in words.

Words are doors and gates – always in the way. I fell out with my musician friend before she moved to California. I loved our friendship, but our connection fell apart over Facebook and so many messages sent without context or personality. Messages without the same weight or depth found in voices or laughter.

But now I know the importance of sound through her laugh, through her voice, which bubbles up from memory now and again, when provoked by the pitch or quaver of atmosphere.

She taught me what to look for by showing me how she played with frequencies and rhythms through her recording software. And in return, I gave her visuals, describing her different songs as waterfalls or hardware stores. It felt like adding substance to ambiance. But sound was always the stimulus or driver and it relegated me to a backseat in this kind of creation.

Sounds start and they don’t end. That’s why there are rests in music. Rests are punctuation. They do not change or increase the likelihood that sound or silence will follow and they don’t dictate whether or when or how relationships will be reinstated or terminated or put on hiatus.

 

When I fell out with my friend, I stopped writing. Because I failed at communicating with her, I wanted to stop altogether. To redirect my energies away from computer keyboards and notebooks and insensate visuals. Writing again, after a long hiatus, I can hear the words drop onto the page. My thoughts enunciate. I am so self-conscious when I hear myself. But this sound I can’t escape, I am. It’s a relief to find this susurrus alive in spite of pain and a thousand attempts at self-abdication.

Humility and what I don’t own

My best friend is from Bangalore, India. We met at college orientation. During one of the countless talks on women’s liberation and globalization, I saw her lip curl for the first time, gently at one side. Later I knew the curl was her response to anglicized pronunciations and naïve solutions to the third world.

She taught me that ‘buddhism’ is pronounced buthd-hism and not bood-ism, watched Buffy with me and movies with Aishwarya Rai, and combed oil through my hair. We were always watching explosions, dramatic or literal, in her attic dorm room above a bookstore.

When I go to yoga, or meditate, I feel my lip curling too, as if I weren’t part of this white washing because I am in sympathy with my friend. But my friend is more generous. She does not roll her eyes at shirts with ‘namaste’ on them, and she says growth and spirit can come in anyway. She is beyond judgment of white men with buns in flowing kurtas, and I am not.

But my judgment does break down. Today, at the end of a difficult class, our yoga teacher told us her practice was driven by the beauty of the universe, that she saw the beauty of the universe in human exertion. I felt or intuited truth. My thoughts about how the teachers gossip before class, rolling their eyes at some inconvenience, folded in on themselves. It did not matter that they gossiped because their insight was in spite of it. How humbling that they live a divinity beyond me.

Decisions in Rain

Since I moved to the desert, I fantasize about rain. I imagine the coolness on my face, the way the water runs with abandon down any exposed limb, how it feels like gravity flexed as a muscle.

A neat child, I hated the rain. It damped my fashion, it interrupted play. Days incubated in the rain. But it left a peculiar New England scent of pine and damp dirt, and the pine rose again above our heads – an intoxicating crown.

When you stare up into the falling rain the drops that are closest are magnified and you know you are always underwater. In adolescence in America they ask you to choose your life and you are sorted into a college by a few words and a test score. On the cusp of this, in fear of it, I stayed out in the rain. I imagined the military and myself in martial order, and in academia taxonomized. But my vision was poor in the rain. I felt myself undivided from it. I stayed out, and all around me it fell.

Clean Sadness

Since I left my last partner, who loved me, I have been traveling a long corridor.

I did this as a child. The bones of my feet fell unevenly on the smooth wood. And I remember its shine.

When my parents divorced it was my chore to bathe the floors in lemon. And when it frothed, I felt sad in the bones of our house.

Michael was so gentle. And when I was depressed I could feel him tinkering around me, trying to alter some misfit piece of reality. He fixed my bike and my car. And when he did, I took his face between my palms and kissed him with my eyes wide open.

There are no hallways in the place I live now. Unless the whole place is a hallway and I live in the room at the end of it. Regardless, there is this running feeling of grief.