Madison Monday: sleeping with the windows open

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It really shouldn’t be warm enough in March to sleep with the windows open, but it is. Over the winter, you get used to hearing nothing more than the soft whooshing noise the heating system makes when it kicks on. In the winter, we live sealed off from the world. The cold seeps in through every opening. Being able to push the windows up and let in the world feels like a victory. Then the noise comes in.

mourningFirst, the laments of the mourning doves. They’re here earlier than they should be, too, and don’t start singing until the morning. They remind me of being in Florida, which is where I heard them growing up. They like urban places, so there weren’t any out in the country when I was a kid. They sound sad, but make me think of mornings full of sunshine and sand.

Then the cars and their radios. Some of the songs are familiar and I wonder about the person inside—the intersections of the soundtracks of our lives. Where are they headed? Is this their favorite song? Are they singing along? Other times, the bass booms so loudly it shakes the foundations of our house in a way no natural phenomenon ever has.

There are loud mufflers and screeching brakes and all manner of failing combustion on the streets below. The beeping of a large vehicle moving backward. The crash of recycling bins being dumped into the truck.

And the conversations. Mumbled and barely audible sometimes. Or at midnight and shouted. One night, I lay in bed not sleeping and listen to the sound of the argument coming from blocks away. It’s impossible to tell what it’s about. Only snippets drift up. Something about cigarettes. A promise to tell or not to tell. The volume never fades and mostly I am amazed at the ability to be angry for the distance of so many city blocks. Even after they’re gone, I imagine I can still hear the rhythmic sound of their shouting in the distance.

As spring creeps closer, there’s the spring chorus before the sun has even risen. A symphony of birds in the dark, too impatient to wait for the sun to rise.

The peeper frogs after a rain. They’re never as loud as they would be out in the country, but they’re out there all the same.

When you open the windows, you can’t control what comes in. Your world becomes porous. Or you remember that it was all along.

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