Posts Tagged ‘silence’

Three Ways

11 January 2011

Dear J-

So this morning figgy cries out from bed that there’s something she’s gotta have with her in bed, this raft of sleep that she clings to desperately at times, arms and limbs sprawled in wild tangles, and already full of fellow castaways on slumber’s sea: stuffed animals, balloons, toys du jour. I react with a sleepy groan, theVet gets up to help, and Calcifer, startled awake after his own hour’s labor asleep, begins to cry out. It’s three AM and we’re all wide-eyed facing the dark in different ways: I get up reluctantly, theVet goes to retrieve Calcifer for another feeding he may not really want, on further consideration, and figgy, chastised into silence, gravely explores her options there as I pop in periodically during preparations, first in my pajamas then just before breakfast, after packing lunch, finally before I steop out the door. She accepts a kiss, a hug, a few high-fives, and lastly a handshake where she declares pleeztameetcha. She is three, it is still three, we who were three are now four and ready for another day again.

There’s all kinds of articles on the shooting in Tucson, from how Sarah Palin’s to blame (for crosshair symbols over congressional districts) to profiling the six lives lost (special focus on the nine-year-old born on that dark September 11th and the judge) to dissceting the life of the accused, Jared Lee Loughner. Overnight the news reader picks up the latest stories placed on the wire, this one a little blurb about Loughner’s parents, a neighbor, admittedly not close, says how they’ve been incapacitated since learning their son may have left the house that morning to do mayhem. They came home with groceries and water in the bed of their truck and their neighbor walks up and says, hey, don’t you have a son named Jared? I’m reading it in one corner of the house, eating cereal and picturing the shock but thinking of figgy, lying quiety with eyes open in the half-twilight of the room with more nightlights than lamps and thinking of figgy, not asleep but thinking and thinking of figgy, and wondering what the parents feel, how their flesh may have gone terribly astray.

If I stopped to think about everything that might happen to the kids I would never sleep again from worry and time spent and in all that time I still would never imagine what the Loughners are going through. I realize that our rapacious fourth estate is doing its job to ferret out every angle and uncover every possible connection to bring out a story, but it seems beyond the pale to report on the parents in the absence of statements from them or their only son. They are like a mountain man, this stranger-neighbor says after walking in to bring their mail, describing how private and isolated they were in the neighborhood. Whether you choose silnce or find it necessary it needs respect and that’s why I’d go in periodically to see our figgy in her corner room — still okay, yes, still fine, okay, still got everything you need, yup. Because there’s silence and there’s ostracism and sometimes it’s hard to distinguish between them if you’re three, if it’s three, if the three have gone through tectonic upheaval and before repair becomes impossible.



Travel Time

8 August 2010

Dear J-

It turns out that I write best when in motion, so with nothing else palatable on the flight (as I’m not about to drag out my books and begin, horrors, studying) here I am. For some reason I always find airports immensely lonely places, even when you’re traveling with folks you know: you’re in a kind of geographical limbo, neither here nor there yet, and waiting for something, for the flight to be over, for the flight to depart, to get your bags, to get out of there, to get there, for the restroom to open up, for a space for your feet, to turn on your gadgets, for the seatbelt sign, to land, to taxi, to take off, to park, to pay, to check-in. But these are all solitary activities, and you end up having to wait a little longer.when it’s just you.

The flight attendants are going about their duties with typical steely-eyed efficiency, doling out food and drinks to the passengers and not really making any kind of human contact. The people you sit with are wrapped up (as am I, as though I wasn’t the biggest hypocritical fraud you could hope to meet) in their reading and gadgets as though they contained the secrets of life. Perhaps they do. Yet it’s hard to muster any real interest in strangers you might know for another few hours at the outside, and I’m sure that as hardened as some flyers are, the staff have seen it all by now. Better to stick with what you know, that space between your eyes and ears; you’ve trod those floorboards a thousand times already knowing you’ll have nothing but to entertain yourself. There are things I like to bring on a trip, but I wish I’d remembered cards right now — there’s something in the way that you mesh them together at a crisp ripple, feats of manual dexterity that keep your hands busy and your mind clean.

This paricular flight is equipped with individual headrest monitors: we’re not stuck watching the same programs, and seeing them all lit up and sending information down the way is entertainment on its own. We’ve transformed, so they say, into a society of browsers, where everyone knows a little about everything and, if not, we can look that stuff up on-line in moments. Anyone with a connection can find hard-core trivia that was hard-won in the past, gleaned from tireless (or expensive, or both) research into dusty shelves and obscure conclusions. But it’s both symptomatic and causal: the more we pursue our echo chambers of knowledge, the more we want to know, and so we keep spinning our electronic cocoons of silence throughout the air, punching tubes of silence between us all.