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Sounds of Suburbia

Updated: Jan 17

Garage doors. Open, close. Open. close. Cars racing by, garage door opening. closed. Amazon truck. UPS. Doorbell. Dogs barking. Gardner. Gardner. Gardner. Mowing, mowing, mowing. Garage doors. Open, close. I cannot hear any people. I cannot hear any laughing. I cannot hear the basketball bouncing or strollers or dogs, or people. Where have the people gone? When I look out of the window, I see houses and mailboxes, snow in the winter and leaves in the fall. I see roses growing and beautiful grass. I see wreaths on doors and colorful flowers hanging from the garages. I see door signs and pumpkins. I see cars go by but they never stop. I see eyes from behind glass but never walking. I step outside and listen even harder. There is nothing. Only lawnmowers, constant, deafening, lonely.

We lived in Washingto for a long time and for part of that time we were in a very Microsofty neighborhood. People working all the hours and commuting back and forth without time to enjoy their lives. Or at least their outdoor lives. They would pull into a garage and disappear. A portal to another dimension. A portal where they wouldn’t emerge until time to go to work yet again. Our sons would play football in the street, they would make noise. They would play catch, or ride bikes, they used chalk on the sidewalks and ran around the block. They would get looks. We would have people over and cars would park along the street, hoards of shoes left on the porch and music coming from the house. As they left one night, the police were called because we were disturbing the peace. The peace is distracting and unnerving. The peace is disturbing. The peace is unnatural. Working from home, or taking a day off would be so quietly loud I would almost go crazy. Never any noise on the weekends because no one does their own yardwork. The noise is from 8–2 every day when the paid lawncare workers drive up in their trucks and mow and blow, trim and edge, and then move on to the next house. The noise so loud it echos in your head because it is the only thing you hear. No voices. No laughter. Just lawnmowers and garages. I try to imagine COVID times in that neighborhood. Absolute isolation. No where to go so the garages didn’t even open.

Today, I’m in my office, in Arizona, I hear the neighbors walking by, I see them stop and talk to each other, the dogs sniffing. I hear my husband in the garage with the saw going. I see the one across the street. Dualing artists making noise, interacting. God, the sound is beautiful. In the summer it is people in the pool and sitting outside, on Halloween it is tailgates in the front and conversations on the move. Yesterday it was kids on scooters and cyclists riding by. We are in what would now be called a faraway neighborhood, there is no reason to drive through, but yet, somehow it is more alive that where we used to be. We still have our garage doors and our lawn care, but with other sounds those are not so deafening. I cannot walk to the mailbox without having a conversation. I have to leave my earbuds at home because I’ll miss an interaction. I’m hopeful for that old neighborhood so far away, have they learned to interact, to see each other, or have they lost their voices to the the sounds of suburbia. #connection #neighbors #home

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