a whole new soundscape

00:00 / 00:50

a window air conditioner / dishwasher sounds / music through the walls / passing cars /a plane flying above / distant thunder

     And suddenly I'm starting my life in a strange city 200 miles from my home. This is the first apartment with my name on the lease; I am no subletter, no tagalong. Crossing the bridge one block over, I see the World Trade Center, the Statue of Liberty, and they don't shine for me like they do on TV. The city looks soft under polluted-pink skies.


My dog walks with me all over Jersey City. My dog walks with me to the dentist. My dog is suspicious of elevators but can't keep her footing on the marble stairs. I have never needed an air conditioner in my window before but now I have two, and their constant rumble drowns out the television that I watch huddled on the couch where it is safe, my back to the wall.

Outside is always too hot with no trees to shade you, and the buildings block the breeze. Outside, when it rains, I look down and there is no mud, only gray water and everything somehow sticky. I keep my curtains drawn so I can watch commuters shuffle down the train-station stairs while I drink my orange juice. In the evening they move slower, looser. I will teach again in September, but until then I am only filling time.

And it's loud, of course. Nobody ever told me how many ambulances will pass below in the night. Traffic noise, loud

greetings, car alarms, barking dogs, upstairs neighbors, construction, demolition, countless languages spoken, chanted, breathed, pleaded, floated up to me, sent up into the sky where words coalesce into prayer. The prayer of the earth hums at all hours.

I sleep better than I have in years.