I’ve always been the kind of person who wanted to feel everything, to fall upon the thorns of life and bleed.
Although as a child, I recoiled from the strong sweet and sour flavors of the German food my mother learned to prepare from my father’s mother, preferring bologna sandwiches on white bread and macaroni and cheese to any number of boiled meats or fermented cabbages that I was being force-fed, in my adult years I’ve grown to want to taste everything: all the pungent, spongy, gamey, bitter, spoiled eats the world has to offer.
Sometimes I can’t get enough of foul odors, because I find their sheer strength addictive.
I’ll try any sexual position or activity once, because I want to know what it feels like. If I don’t like it, I don’t ever have to do it again.
If a television is on in a room, I cannot not watch it. My eyes are dazzled by all of the moving images, even on mute. It could be sports, news, commercials, or some unidentified series or movie, and I cannot take my eyes off of it.
But lately, I’m finding some of the sensory perceptions of the world too much. I can’t stand to be in a room with a television set at any volume because I cannot hear anything else. I sit in cafés, libraries, bars and restaurants with my headphones in playing no music, trying to block out all of the ambient noise of passing traffic, brewing coffee, steaming milk, clinking glasses, clanging silverware, screaming children, barking dogs, gossiping girlfriends, debating dates. Everything is so loud to me, and everyone in LA seems to have something very important to say, all of the time. They all sound like monsters to me, the cries of a thousand screaming Godzillas.
These days, I’ve even stopped singing along to the radio. I can’t stand hearing my own voice, it’s too much. I dread the inevitable day when I don’t want to listen to the radio at all, a sad day, indeed.
I miss the desert, waking up to the coming light of day, and not to the sounds of alarms or neighbors or doors or cars. The doves mourn gentle and low, and their sound blends in with the soft scurrying of the rabbits across the gravel path, a distant trickle of water from the garden being sipped by some thirsty thief, leaving the plants to perish, so it can survive.
Out there, I used to start my day hiking with my headphones, the music playing to pass the time while I struggled to reach some peak or mine. But I soon came to appreciate the silence of separation, letting my ears listen to the hot wind whipping by, and nothing else.
A therapist has discouraged me from self-isolating in the wake of the car accident, but I don’t know if I can handle the world at its full decibel levels right now. Perhaps plugging one’s ears with headphones in public is the ultimate anti-social behavior, but I need to turn down the volume for a little while. The world is too sharp, and I too sensitive. I perceive everything, acutely, deeply. I hear the unsaid. I understand the whispers. I struggle with subtext. My own thoughts are blaring.
So for now, I think I need a break from exterior stimulation. For once, I just want to be left alone. I don’t want to be touched, spoken to, taught, tricked, or fed. I refuse to be needed or noticed. I'm tired of listening, trying to connect. There's no use in talking. I just want to retreat into the soft folds of afternoon nap time.
At least while my brains are still scrambled.
The Sounds of Silence