After a lifelong wait to live in New York City, I lie here awoken at 10:30 because of the roar of the cars that speed down Prospect Ave. Each car sounds different – as if someone was testing out sounds to see which one would perfectly compliment their symphony of life. One car goes by with a deep bass beat pounding out the rhythm of a human heart, the next repeatedly blares its horn angrily as if the repetition will somehow cure the sadness of the provider’s frustratingly monotonous life. Three cars speed by all using the same motor sound to create a very different motor sounds, as if someone was playing with the bass and treble knobs on the radio while the same roaring-hissing played over and over.
When I was in 10th grade I once awoke after a long day of Soccer practice, play rehearsal and homework to the Saturday noon-time sound of my mother mowing the lawn. In my false-indignant frustration of my parents’ inability to focus all of their attention on their only child’s ever-important supposed needs I came storming downstairs and out the door to explain to my mom that I was sleeping and that my midday nap was more important than the grass being trim. My mother apologized profusely and stopped shaving our yard. I maintained my anger because I believed myself to be right, though not because my sleep was truly important, but rather because I didn’t give a shit what the lawn looked like.
I recognize now that it wasn’t the importance of the length of our grass, but rather that the sound seemed to encapsulate what I hated so dearly about my hometown. I woke up to hear a riding lawn mower being driven by my mother. I heard a 1995 gray Caterpillar riding lawn mower whose seat was dis-attached just slightly so that every bump and rut bounced my 126 pound mother up and down and side to side as her quietly stubborn anti-smile exhibited the concentration that she attempted to maintain as she gripped the steering wheel and hoped that the slightly too large suppposedly noise cancelling headphones didn’t slip off after one of the more significant divots jostled the machine she was riding off its directed path. That is what I HEARD. Sure, all I truly heard was a strong growl, but this fully realized and fully correct image is what placed itself in my head.
As I listen to the strong growls of the passing cars, planes, dogs, and subway cars I have to create new images, whether it’s an angry businessman frustratedly going to work again, a young child excitedly walking to school alone for the first time, or an unhappy couple silently refusing to stare at each other as their dog naively searches for interesting scents on his morning walk, none of what passes by is predictable. I have to make up my own stories that may or may not be right.
Driving into Manhattan sitting in the back seat of a van I spent far too much time in during college, I witnessed the sun set over my new home’s skyline while Irish jig music that seemed to be pulled from a coming home from war montage in a Braveheart ripoff played. The combination of these sights, sounds, and memories in no way were able to be combined to create one succinct image, and that’s what I like about my new home – an inability to predict.