Everything is loud. Everyone is screaming. Everyone needs something. Everyone needs me. I can't think with all of these sounds and all of these lists and all of these decisions I have to make. Can I borrow your ears? Your organization skills? Your memory?
We talk of the moments, but only those bolded and underlined, notated with red ink. We mark dates on the calendar and double-check them, make plans to fill our days with noise and conversation, push ourselves to take on more, measure our heft by the wake of our ventures but quiet is seldom discussed.
Of course there is chaos and every morning we wake in sinking beds and we must dress, eat, feed, drive... all before the time the bed disappears beneath the floor, its monsters and tube socks revealed.
But what of the reflective pauses? When the music isn't blasting the same songs on repeat. When the children are coloring. And the kitchen is clean. And the babies are finally sleeping. After school drop-off when the car is parked on the driveway and the key has just left the ignition...
When I open the door she is screaming. Every morning she screams. She is afraid of arms that aren't mine. Terrified. So I strap her to my body, tell her over and over that it's okay. The world is safe. You don't need me. Just ask your twin sister. The quiet one who in four months has cried once.
The world is safe.
Hal says the one thing that gives him solace in moments of panic or stress is: "everything is absurd." He tells me to try it sometime so I do and he's right. This sentence is absurd. So is this sentence. And this.
A. It's a wonderful feeing, to be needed.
B. It's a terrifying feeling, to be needed.
C. All of the above
They're not supposed to sleep on their stomachs but there's no other way that they will sleep. They're not supposed to sleep with bumper pads in their cribs but they do that, too. Otherwise they would sleep with their faces against the bars. I am told by reputable sources that I'm putting their lives at risk. I have been told by reputable sources all my life that what I'm doing is wrong because that's how reputable sources work. They are smug in the knowledge they possess after games of telephone. They tag their hypotheses with the names of Ivy League research institutes and we all fall down on our knees out of fear that we know nothing and they know it all. And they do! They know everything. Their voices are loud with wisdom so we musn't trust our own.
I knew a woman once who forgot how to listen to herself, too busy was she listening to voices on headphones telling her how to feel. And then she would cry because the song told her to cry and she would laugh because the studio audience told her to laugh and then she put her babies on their backs because that's just what you do now. That's just what you do. So much noise.
I'm learning to turn down the music. No headphones. No more listening in on the conversations of reality stars with cameras aimed between their eyes. Everything is absurd.
My hair is falling out again. It's falling out like it did when Fable was born and I blamed my IUD. My hair is falling out because of hormones and I'm afraid to have sex because of pregnancy and every time Hal sits next to me on the couch I cross my legs. In the meantime, the shower drain is clogged with hair and the water is rising.
The water is rising and the bed is sinking and the voices in our heads belong to everybody else. We know the words to every song but forget what it was we were saying. We retweet in place of our own thoughts. Repin our fantasy kitchens. Tumble quotes. We tell our children to "be quiet! I can't hear myself think...."
...But of what are we thinking? I know all the lyrics to Baby Got Back. I say "like" too much. I click "like" too much. Nobody "likes" this post. I don't "like" it either.
I bought a brick of Pilates classes last month knowing I would never use them.
But everyone is doing it, you know? Everyone ELSE is doing it.
There's always a bra that hangs from the doorknob in the bathroom. It's always damp and it's always there, even when I take it down and slip it through my sleeves at the breakfast table. Somehow, moments later it's back. Another bra, twisted and drying against monogrammed towels. This is what I'm thinking about right now in my quiet moment at my desk with my quiet baby in the other room and the other one in my arms. Quiet is a stretched-out bra with a missing underwire.
Yesterday I started an outline for a new thing. A new story. Three years ago I wrote a short script that got made into a film that I hated so much I never wrote about it. It was bad, that's why. It was bad and I wrote it and it was bad. But, see, someday I'd like to write about someone else's bra straps, a different married couple's vasectomy pamphlets. I did the same thing last January. Started something. Finished it. Hated it. Wrote something else. Liked it okay. Hated it. Wrote something else. Decided it wasn't worth a second draft...
I imagine I'll spend the next forty-something years writing things and throwing them away until one day the muse appears like Mary Poppins with a taped-together manuscript and helps me wrangle decades of dead ends and tangled plotlines. In the meantime, it's easier to start a new story than to edit another draft. This is why they say that half of manuscripts end in divorce.
"I write to quiet the voices," people like to say. Just like we say "shhhh!" to our children for talking too loud in libraries.
There is so much noise. Too much noise. Noise blocking noise but quiet is seldom discussed. Unless of course there is so much quiet. Too much quiet. Quiet blocking quiet until it, too, becomes loud.
The margins of life are thick. Peace exists. (We named our screaming baby after it.) Silence happens. (Even if it's only as we dream.) A song fades out and then, for two or three seconds; quiet.
It's everywhere and it's whispering.