Sunday, January 1, 2012


The silence used to frighten me. The low grinding noise of the city kept, at least to some small degree, the maddening din in my head hovering just below the surface. It was a comforting sound, and it reminded me that even though I was locked tight inside my own crooked little story line, I was never really alone. Then it all fell apart, the relationship and my life in Manhattan. I remember what it felt like driving away from the city, thinking that it would be the last time I saw it as an inhabitant and not a visitor. For the next few years I dreamt of the day I would move back, and told anyone that would listen that once I clawed my way back onto that island, nothing but death would ever make me leave. I remember trying to sleep at night with the windows open after I'd moved to Connecticut. There was something about the quiet that seemed deadening to me; as if not only had something inside gone silent, but that the world around me had gone silent as well. I remember moving to the place where I sleep now, tucked into a small band of trees and hills at the intersection of Interstates 84 and 684. With the windows open in the Spring and the Fall I can hear a diminished yet no less present version of that same noise that comforted me in Manhattan. It's no longer comforting. When I lay in bed at night, as still as stone, I often think of this verse from the Starkweather song Into The Wire:

With closed eyes I focus on the lull of lush static white noise off of the highway
Imagine the tide crash the shore
I will lay here and I won't make a sound, I will lay here, watch it fall,
and I won't make a sound...

I now find myself craving the absolute silence of the woods, the complete negation of all sounds human. I'm dreaming about moving to New Hampshire, to the harshness of the White Mountains, and am feeling the ever increasing desire to just be left alone. Some of my happiest memories of the last two or three years have been when I was alone. Alone in my late night drives back from Philadelphia and, more importantly, alone in my solitary runs on the Appalachian Trail and trails of Western Connecticut. In an ideal world there would be someone to share those miles and hours with, but the reality is that for me, intimate contact has always resulted in a sadness that seems to inevitably outweigh the happiness of any friendship or relationship. One of the great gifts of trail running is that it has allowed me to not only not fear the silence and isolation, but to use it as a way to make myself whole. I have medications, I have a remarkable therapist, and I have silence. Life without any of those three becomes unmanageable in a frighteningly short period of time. Of the three, it's only silence that feeds my soul.

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