I can hear the rumble of the freight trains from two blocks away, sending ripples through the water of my startled goldfish. One block to the east, the fire engines scream a steady song as they pass to and from the station. “This is a quiet place,” my landlord told me when I moved in. The dogs bark nightly, and their owners yell at them. Children scream daily, and their parents scream at them.
I find the sounds of civilization comforting. I’ve always said, I prefer noisy neighbors over quiet ones, because it means I can be noisy in return. That didn’t stop me from seething over drunken college students in the dormitory halls at 3am, but it allows me to be less insecure about playing the piano at 9pm (or violin at any time).
I feel so urban popping into the corner market on my walk home from work, cold cuts wrapped in butcher paper for my evening meal. The owner greets me cheerfully and bids me come again. There’s a strange small town feel to this urban life. The people at the pizza shop welcome me by name. I ride the bus alongside familiar faces, known not by name but by trait: Aloha Bag Lady; Badass Long Coat; Girl Who Talks Too Loud at 7am. There are the people who ride only on rainy days, and the people who always seem to be everywhere.
Walking the street, I’ll think I see a familiar face, and I have to stop and think; where did I know them from? Hawaii? Japan? Or here, Ohio? My memories lack geolocation. And then the person passes, a stranger, and I’m left disappointed and wondering where all my friends disappeared to in the years I was away from the city. Still, I keep searching for that familiar face. Anyone.
I left the rural, the place where nobody ever leaves, for a place where no one would ever stay. In the night, I hear the trains rumble toward anywhere, and I want to go with them.