Trying to fill the silence

My sister is right, the selfie lighting in my Des Moines apartment is excellent.

My sister is right, the selfie lighting in my Des Moines apartment is excellent.

As I move through my apartment on Saturday mornings, watering my plants, removing a layer of dust from nearly every surface, both cursing and revering my giant south-facing windows, I listen to podcasts. I fill my home with others’ voices, their stories in rhythm with the tasks on my weekend to-do list.

For a long time, I was afraid of the silence in my own home.

There is sameness in silence, the way it always invites my pesky restlessness to the forefront, compelling me to counter it with chatter, sound, anything. I’ve felt alarmingly uninspired by my writing the past couple months amid the shuffle of law school visits, planning a European trip and making moving plans for the fall. Every time I sit down to write, I don’t know where to start: the planning, the quitting, the leaving, the moving, the resettling. It all blurs into feelings, anxieties and impatience I can’t bear to sort out.

But when I find myself unanchored in the one thing I can (usually) count on — words — I moor myself to the sounds of where I am, sounds that so often fade into the background of living, breathing, doing.

I don’t know that I’ll ever live in the center of a major city again. The sun peeks around tall buildings in the morning, sneaking its way into my windows. Beeping construction vehicles sound as the city continues to grow; sirens come and go with the regularity only a city center can offer.

While I feel increasingly stifled in Des Moines, these familiar sounds remind me that I am in this life stage for a little while longer. It is not permanent, thankfully, but I am here.

I still fill my apartment with sound, trying to fill the silence: podcasts, Beyoncé, TED Talks. But I’m also listening to the sounds that are already there, the ones that will define this part of my 20-something life. In the city, even silence is never really silent, and it’s about time I tuned in.

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