I chose the name “Echo” because that’s how this all came about – a piece sent to a friend, a “What do you think of this?” and the response was a morsel of prose, the perfect echo. From there it became a search for increased creativity, and friends from all over the country have beautifully contributed. I am awed by each individual’s writing and photography talent.
The first part of this post is written by me – the others are credited accordingly (with some including links to their own blogs or social media pages).
The world is unbearably noisy. It clashes with the obvious bursts of nature between buildings…it’s odd to inhale that vibrant smell of grass after a night full of rain but end up increasingly distracted by the surrounding city sounds.
I run over a puddle with my car and, for an instant, it sounds like a crash, like cascading waterfalls. The image haunts and follows me for a few moments, lingering behind my eyes. I can’t tell if it’s my ears buzzing from the flashing cars or if they’re straining and grasping to hold onto that miniscule splash. It has an accusatory tone.
This morning I was sitting in my car, mesmerized by the tiny, scattered droplets of rain on my windshield left over from last night’s storm, openly fascinated with the vibrantly green trees nearby, the leaves gently swaying as the sky decided if it wanted to let another cascade escape. I refused to play my normal routine of music on my car ride over, choosing instead to revel in the silence. I wanted to refrain from the easy distraction of white noise.
But the moment was shattered by frantic beeping from the cars behind me – the light had turned green, and I waited a millisecond too long. It was time to step on the gas.
Yes, the world is noisy. A cacophony of sounds that we’ve started believing are natural to our environment. You know what is natural? Birds. The way they know exactly the right moment to start their chirping. “It’s day time now, world! The sky is lighter! Do you not see?” The patter of early morning rain, the sound it makes when it hits my window. Cleansing the city as it rests. Wind and its secret language, the way it converses with the trees. A rude awakening. The world we live in makes no sense to the conscious mind. This society. This technology. These buildings. This traffic jam. These sounds they call Top 40 Radio. Can we go back to a simpler time? But when? When is that simpler time? Maybe America before it had a name and it was just land. Maybe then the world would make sense. But maybe not.
As I almost begrudgingly accelerate, car after car pass me by, sending stares in my direction. I admit, sometimes I too am guilty of this, and I don’t blame them. Life is too short to be held back by people blocking your way. Not for me, though. At least not today. It’s as if the world around me is moving faster than time itself, and the very thought of it drives me to the edge of vertigo. My mind can’t keep up. I grip the wheel tighter, out of fear of losing control and swerving into the traffic beside me. And just when I feel that I can’t hang on…salvation. Red light. Refocus. Breathe. It will be OK. Today, I live for the red light.
Sometimes it scares me how much time I spend running. We all run from our demons, but sometimes they pull at the hem of your shirt, they drag you out of love, they drag you into it. But that’s no worry, I think. I turn up the music just a little bit louder. I focus on the wind cutting through the grass. I strain to hear the cicadas buzz on warm summer nights. I study the dust swirling through the air. I stumble across the beach, searching for shells just so I don’t have to think about what may be following. Occasionally, I spin around, almost like a child dancing, just to get a fleeting glimpse of what’s behind me, around me.
But demons don’t stay locked in notebooks. They don’t watch you from the shore as you wade into the water. They don’t wave to you from the airport as you board a plane. You can run and run and run, but that homesickness in your stomach can never be satiated, and the tears will still pour down your cheeks, blurring your vision until the water and the sky are one, until your hopes and fears collide. There’s a moment after I turn the lights out for bed where my eyes haven’t adjusted and the room is black as ink. In that moment, every demon comes out to play, dancing around the walls until I’m unsure what year it is, what lifetime I’m living. I’m not yet sure if they climb mountains or swim down rivers by your side, but I do know they can walk up stairs. I know they have a particular passion for New York City rooftops and rundown Chicago streets, where the grid is easy to navigate.
At one point, we all stop running and turn around to face what was there the whole time. I hope I have the courage to turn sooner than later.
It feels like a bigger version of someone looking out the window of a boring office job and seeing the trees or garden beyond. Yearning for the freshness and freedom and cleansing emotional connection to nature, where you can just sit quietly and marvel at the beauty and feel whole. But every time she gets even a second to get lost in it, she’s jerked back to the reality of the city she’s in. The grit and Rush and clamor and the moment is past. It’s an interesting perspective to create commentary on how we are, at our core, drawn to nature but find ourselves kept away by the need for things like jobs and home and community and the structure of society.
The club smelled like a cocktail of spoiled wine and cleaning solution. He took us to a place full of people who looked vaguely familiar; all moved at the same pace, all seemed to know one another. I tried to find his hand at the bar but was given a drink instead. I smiled, he nodded, we danced.
The first time we had kissed was while crossing the street that one night. He tasted like the beers we had sipped down the road. The gesture was loud in its daring nature, and I liked the sound it made into the quiet night. As the club sounds were being pumped into my ears, I wondered if I was hearing or being filled with the numb sound of nothing.
The cascading night soon swept us into the street. We held hands as the air welcomed us. There was a cellist with extraordinarily long fingers who played a tune that swept the silence off her feet. He pulled me closer. The symphony and warmth made me feel like maybe I wasn’t directing my hope in the wrong direction.
Home enveloped us. I laid there in satiated silence and felt his breath in the air around me. The moment collapsed when he let a wash of unnatural blue light into the room. My silent plea hadn’t been heard; he had checked his phone.