Around eleven yesterday, the cable and internet service in our neighborhood stopped, and as I learned by nightfall, so did reality and the series of routines everyone takes for granted. There was no need to remember when…we were living it, in less than living color.
The past year or so, I have noticed, and commented with friends…yes…on the Internet, that life around me has deteriorated into almost a ghost town. The streets in my neighborhood with their nicely cared for homes are quiet for easily 20 hours a day, as if they are no more than a facade, covering holes in the ground where everyone disappears.
On any given day, I don’t need a watch to know it is 7:30 am, as cars and people head to the end of our street where the elementary school is located, and from there out of the subdivision. By 8:30 am, a mere hour later, there is a deafening silence that is not broken until somewhere in the area of 3:00 pm, when the mail truck drives along the sidewalk and children who are not in some sponsored child care return from school, disappearing into their homes.
The brief few hours from there until it becomes dark, might find a random car returning from work, a quick lawn mower now that summer is approaching, or a dog barking to be let in, however, that is the extent of life. For the most part, this area of humanity truly resembles an oil painting. Truly frightening, is that it seems to be the norm in the world, confirmed by those I mentioned it to, as the same where they lived as well.
The sound of life, albeit as simple as an unanswered telephone ringing, people talking, tools being used and dropped, or children on bicycles exploring new frontiers, just doesn’t happen like it once did or should. Today confirmed such a reality in many ways, because people were forced from their homes, having no Facebook, email, X-box or Netflix to program their daily schedule. There was finally activity around the street, long since forgotten somewhere north of 1973! I heard conversations, playing, walking, barbeque grills were even used, along with the clatter of plates on tables, and dogs barking up a storm. It reminded me in many ways of a Twilight Zone episode, because even though we aren’t on Maple Street, an alien presence was nevertheless felt. The world had returned, all because what we depend upon as life had shut down.
As evening faded and the sky turned dark, I must admit that I found myself wondering what was going on outside of the window I call home. There was no news coverage reminding me of the violent and overly sexual nature we humans have grown accustom to hearing about, and likewise, I wasn’t able to click onto the blue and white page of society, where my friends and sadly my family live, which left me hoping they were okay, and of course disappointed I hadn’t followed their antics on a Thursday in May. Guess it is a good thing most season finales were last week, allowing the television its own moment or two of silence as well.
The true reality in it all for me however, was just the silence when the unexpected sound of life was forced out of those around me. It wasn’t what they said or did, but that they just were! Growing up we had a cheap and loud ticking clock in the kitchen, and I would sit in the living room listening as the second hand ticked away, sometimes shutting my eyes knowing it would soon be time to eat or time for bed, and then of course, time for another day. Later, after I moved out and would return to see my aging parents…and then just parent, the sound was even louder than I remembered, and I often wondered what they did when I wasn’t there, to keep busy or occupied. Those were also the days when I was rushing off to work, caring for children and myself, and often went to bed too tired to sleep…nothing like today.
Although many things have changed for me since I became aware of the world I live in, sometime around the late 1960’s, one thing hasn’t changed and it never will…that is the simple fact, we only have so much time in this life, and we need to utilize it whenever we can, because sooner or later the circuits will go down for good… that being said, I am also a realist seeing the rut we all are stuck into. So today when CNN returns with a blaring news break, along with at least one naked Kardashian, and killings that break my heart, I’ll look out the window again, wondering when the mail is coming, take the dog for a walk and of course, not pass another soul. I will probably also browse life for a while, shopping, chatting or allowing myself to be entertained, all from behind a computer screen, before going to bed in darkness, with a dark silence around my home to match.