It is so quiet here.
I'm not here alone that often. That must be it.
But it's been quiet, in general, for the better part of the week, save for the random hillbilly firework or two going off down the street. In the winter I have to remember the benefits of not being able to keep the windows open. Not hearing M-80's going off randomly in the bar parking lot, scaring the bejezus out of me, is one of them.
Around these parts we actually celebrate the Fourth Of July a couple of weeks in advance with a grand party at our local park. My neighbors are a driving force for putting it on. I'm honored to live near them and their kids (who I've kind of watched grow up over the last almost four years). I don't know how anyone can sustain the kind of energy and commitment to making things happen. I didn't get that gene in my DNA. I like going to things. I like participating in things. I like to contribute when I can. But I don't really like coordinating tens of people, thousands of dollars, and heaps and gobs of public relations work. But that's just me. I like to have parties for my friends; they like to have parties for everybody. It all works out, really, because I go to theirs and they come to mine.
So every year the community comes together to share in the excitement of the summer, the thrill of being alive, and the collective acceptance of being a free people. We, as Americans, often forget how lucky we are. We can do so much and say so much and tell the world how we feel like almost nobody else in the world, rhetorically speaking.
At the Family Fourth Celebration there is food, music, face painting, train rides, all kinds of stuff for all kinds of folks. And then, after dark, they finish the day off with a grand fireworks display. This one went off without a hitch. It did its job which was to thrill and excite with light, color and sound. And after it was over we all left en mass almost as if there was an evacuation order. It was a strange sight to see and be a part of.
It was over and then not too much was said. Mainly because it went well.
Now, shortly after the Fourth of July I saw a bunch of news stories about firework displays that did made huge headlines but not for any good reason. They were top news because they either didn't work, hurt somebody, were set off days early by a random rifle shot, or malfunctioned and all went off at once. But you never really hear too much about the wonderful and safe fireworks spectacles because that's just how news travels.
But this celebration we have here in Florence is a loud one. It's loud because it's full of people. One person can walk around all day by themselves and stay relatively quiet. But add somebody else to that equation and things can get loud really quickly. Put those two people in a park with a couple thousand others and add games and food and fireworks and we're talking about one loud motherflipping time, indeed.
But here, today, it's so quiet.
Jodi's on a little trip right now. I'll be joining her on Sunday and we'll camp for a day or so and have a good old time. I have my list of things to bring like bacon and eggs and a frying pan and coffee and all that good stuff. I haven't camped in a few years since I used to do it with my band on tour. We did a few state parks and such but most of the time it was in somebody's back yard. A little Occupy Wall Street village before it was en vogue.
She left yesterday afternoon.
And since the moment her car pulled away something changed.
My harmony is gone.
See, we spend a lot of time together. Like, almost all of it. And this I like very much. It took a little getting used to because I've spent most of my life as a single man. Sure I dated and all, but as far as a serious girlfriend who actually wants to be with me and vice versa this is it.
We both have very flexible schedules as far as our work goes. What this translates into is being home at the same time quite often. And we get used to the dynamic of being here together. Our rhythm is well honed from hours spent talking and listening. The peaks and valleys of excitement over either a development in the local news, a photograph being edited, a song in progress or an unexpected bill's arrival are all quite familiar.
But these things happen between us as much as they happen individually.
And now that I'm here by myself there's a feeling of unease.
Now, don't get me wrong. I'm not crying in my sparkling water over here. It's not the end of the world and I'm not jealous or paranoid. It's just a strange sensation and it inspired me to talk about it.
When I used to drink I'd talk a lot to myself out loud.
I don't really know why that stopped. Maybe I'm living more in my head these days. Maybe back then I needed to hear my intentions out loud. Maybe I was lonely. Maybe I was going a little bit cuckoo. Either way I remember telling myself all kinds of things out loud.
And now, if I'm not talking to somebody in the room or on the phone I'm a pretty quiet guy.
I walk through the house and it's just me.
I go to close up the house and set the alarm and grab my keys and it's just me.
I make breakfast, lunch and dinner and it's just me.
And I remember a time when it was like this every day.
I think back to the years I spent living on my own with nobody around me wondering what time I'll be back. I remember how I would grab my key to my apartment and just close the door and walk out to my car and go forward until I had to come back. There were days when I left to go on the road and wouldn't come back for weeks at a time. There were days when I came back and stayed in my apartment for days on end without leaving, too. I stocked up on what I needed and shut the door and talked to myself and watched my television and kept relatively quiet.
But my life had no harmony back then. I was a single-note run on a page of staff paper bouncing up and down in a chaotic rhythm. Trilling, slurring, sustaining, resting and running up and down the scale to the highest shrill peaks of the northern ledger lines and down to the lowest bass notes the human ear can discern.
I was one little note on a musical playground with nobody watching and no one to play with.
And then my harmony showed up and everything changed.
Thirds, fourths, and fifths rang out and vibrated the air. The counterpoint developed into a celebration dance that would make Scott Joplin proud. The rests had a reason to be where before they would come and go at odd times and with not a lick of reason.
The high notes had a partner below to gauge how far they had climbed. The bass notes had a sensible confidant who could keep them from turning into a long muddled mess of a rumble. There were pleasant intervals that made us smile and giggle, and minor ones to match the solemnity and sadness of the inevitable seriousness of life. And even when the action slowed and there were long passages of quiet they had each other to watch the measures go by in time and with ordered insistence.
And so it's strange to be here at my house by myself, just one little note bouncing around the rooms on both floors, resting on the patio before bounding back inside to grab a seltzer and a handful of cashews.
The cars go by past my house. Most of them have just come from the bank. There's a "right turn only" sign that isn't really legally enforceable but most cars do it. And so they drive by me constantly in the afternoon and into the early evening on a Friday like today.
But it's still quiet here. My ideas come and go, and I have to restrain myself from texting my girlfriend. I have to will myself to just keep the endless stream of manic only-child exaltations to myself. I watch the sunlight ooze from room to room and make every attempt to keep the shades drawn to keep out the heat. I wait for the mail that hopefully will bring my paycheck and maybe a powder-coated catalog from a store that knows my weaknesses. I see the sample soaps gone from her side of the medicine cabinet and the second-tier shoes that, even in pairs, seem lonely and withdrawn and definitely not left behind by chance.
I go upstairs. I go back down. I tend the grill. I pay a bill or two. I straighten out my office area and stock the envelopes for future use. I make the bed even though I'll be back under the same covers in not too long from now.
I add to the laundry.
I stare out the kitchen window.
I see a little bird I hadn't seen before.
I watch the bicycles go by.
I think about taking mine out for a ride.
And all the while it's just me here in my little chair.
Just a lonely little note.
He's running up and down and all around.
And soon enough there will be harmony.
The sound it makes will have an effect.
It will color the world.
But for right now it's just one independent note with everywhere and nowhere to go.
Thanks for reading.