Tuesday, August 17, 2010

In The Still Of The Night The Sound Of Silence Revisited


In those days, only the fancy apartments or rich people uptown had air conditioners.  So, during hot summer days and nights, Florence, along with all the neighbors, would prop open her front door and hope for a breeze to waft in from the stairwell's window facing Columbia Street.

From all those many opened doors, all the different lives would  drift up and down filling the stairs with television commercials, occasional conversations shouted from one room to the next and the smells of a billion things cooking for shabbos or Sunday dinner - all of it weaving in and out of the village of thirty-five apartments.

One late night at home, during a heat wave that had gone on for days and with only a tiny air conditioner in the bedroom, I propped open my front door in hopes of relief.  A breeze blew in from the airshaft.  And as it did, the cat ran out, unable to resits the cool of 100 year old marble floors.  I tried to catch him until, feeling better for the first time in days, I realized he had a good point.

Soon after, like Florence, I began opening my front door into a cool deep night.  The cat and I wandered the stairs, listening to our neighbors sleep and humming along with all the air conditioners in the airshaft.  And after our stroll, the two of us sat in the still and the silence.

I miss the normalcy of open doors during hot days and sleepless nights, and when my door is closed because the neighbors are awake, I miss my mother.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

I miss mine too.
Simpler times are gone when we could leave doors open. We used to have friends that never locked their doors. If you went to see them and they weren't home you could walk in and leave them a note on their kitchen table. Now, even if we are just in the backyard, we lock the doors. Sad.

City Of Strangers said...

CO - That's sweet. I'm trying to remember the last time I lived in a place where people kept their doors open in the heat and I think I have to go all the way back to Montreal in the 80's, or perhaps even my childhood . . .

T.

Bucko said...

Moms! Love the image and the thought. But even the idea of leaving a door open gives me the shakes--I must have fully acclimatized to current urban life without being aware of it. But then, I always had my bedroom door closed against my sister, even on hottest days.

CG said...

That's so evocative. There's something so intriguing about sounds coming from areas unseen that change as doors open and close. Also the mystery of muffled voices - trying to make out the sense of the words when you can't quite grasp them.

Goggla said...

Missing your mother...I feel it.

I guess the college dorm was the last place I would (could) leave my door open and hear the sounds of others. I liked to know everyone else was asleep before I went to bed.

The blackout of 2003 was the last time I heard the 'sounds of silence' through the air shaft. It was so dang hot, all the windows were open, but the doors stayed locked. Through the air shaft, I could hear ice cubes clinking into a glass upstairs...

Melanie said...

I miss my Mom too--we never left our doors open--we even had a backyard but my Mom thought it too dangerous to play in it.

c.o. moed said...

Thank you for all the comments. It really is that wonderment of where and who and how we are with our neighbors. The Hentry Street Daughters (see previous posts of Inheritance, Neighbor) also spoke of changing rule to accomodate new kinds of neighbors - those who did not live with doors open. After decades of living in the co-ops with doors opened they would get a letter from management if they did. You can't even leave your shoes outside the doors anymore. and with that is the loss of family and company and home.