From my bedroom window I can hear the sounds of San Francisco.
The Powell Street cable cars rattle on their tracks two blocks from my house, on their way to visit people and places they’ve already seen before. In the distance I can hear the seals barking from their over-crowded islands off of Pier 39. A fog horn sounds in intervals throughout the night – a monotonous call I find myself strangely looking forward to in its absence. Firetrucks tirelessly grind up the hills towards Polk Street.
When I first moved to the city I used to think they were following me. Nearly every other block I would hear another one on its way to someone else’s tragedy. It feels as if the sirens hunt you down – eerily creeping out in search teams through the fog, knocking over trash cans and shining lights in all the windows.
And yet it so quiet in my room.
My bedroom overlooks a tiny rose garden that seems as if no one has ever tended. And yet somehow there are always flowers. To the left of the garden is a child-sized basketball court that no one ever uses. But a ball looking hopeful, rests against the hoop, waiting for that one day when it will get in to play.
Next door I hear laughter coming from children I have never seen. The neighbor to my right plays piano. I imagine him performing in his living room donning a tuxedo, with a glass stuffed with dollar bills spilling onto the keyboard. He plays extraordinarily well. One day, when I finally bump into him, I will tell him so.
It’s taken awhile, but I finally feel comfortable in my new found space. I am comfortable hearing my own voice interrupting the silences.
Out of nowhere B asked me the other day, “How is your heart?” the way one might ask someone who has recently undergone replacement surgery or a quadruple bypass.
And in a way, I guess I did. In the past few months it has been cut up, cut out, bruised, massaged, and shocked into being. But the scars are fading. One day soon they will be almost invisible and I will have trouble locating them. And when I do I will say that was a place I used to hurt.
“The bandages come off next week,” I told him.