The sound of spilling in a quiet space is never a positive one. Either someone has peed their pants, or their drink has poured all over their computer, or else they’ve vomited up the vodka from last night onto the front of their expensive thrift store sweater.
The quiet space makes every nanosecond, every inch, every gram of noise carry across the ceiling and in between the cubicles like the measles virus. It is a bad place to be clumsy. It is a bad place to have a cold. It is a bad place to let rip a heroic fart or a miscalculated burp.
Our coats spill onto one another, hung over the sides of cubicles and backs of chairs. Boots tumble sideways from their tucked in nooks when the door opens and the entire place shakes. It is a bad place to be heavy. It is inaccessible to people in wheelchairs. It is discriminating.
Compassion and jealousy and hatred permeate one another. Who has an agent, who has a book deal, who has a publicist. It’s the loud voices that have the most, or maybe the least. How can we tell when we are all so full of hubris as to think we belong?
It’s a paradox, an anachronism, something like that. It’s impossible. A quiet space full of so much noise.
There are thousands upon thousands of cities in the world, and all differ. Their sizes vary – some are small, some are large. Some differ in their demographic – more men than women or more citizens above a certain age and so on. They differ in their architecture – some are entirely new and modern and some have areas dating back hundreds of years. But all cities look, sound and feel exactly the same in that quiet moment right before dawn.
No matter what city it is, in that unclear light, before the sun peeps over the horizon, they will be quiet. Quieter than any other moment of the night. Those who work and live by day aren’t yet awake or are still in their homes, and those who live by night have already finished their outings or their work and have gone home. The streets are almost completely bare of people, and the lone car that whooshes past seems to be an intruder, much too loud and intrusive for this quiet moment.
All cities look the same during that small space of time – it is the only time any city is truly sleeping, resting, gathering its strength for another day and night of bustle and work and noise. It is breathtaking- the clear air, free of smog or smoke; the absolute peace that permeates every road and sidewalk and building; the utter and undeniable feeling of being between. Between the night and the day, between breaths, between the very phases of being that make up any city.
It is wonderful, being awake when the city sleeps.
Silence and emptiness are odd things. Both represent a lack, and yet they seem to be so substantial that you can acutely feel the presence of both.
Silence can fill your ears with its noise, making it deafening. Silence can drive you mad with the pitch of it, with the hum of it, with the absolute roar of it. You may shake your head to clear your ears of it or cough or make a noise so as to erase the presence of it. Sometimes it helps, and you’ll notice the creaks in the building and buzz of electricity and be calm, but sometimes the silence will press right back onto your mind, squeezing your head and almost hurting you with its tightness.
Emptiness can fill a room to the brim with the odd ache it causes. Sometimes it can fill a house full of furniture, making you feel utterly alone despite the things around you. Emptiness can weigh heavy on your heart and soul like a stone tied to them that is plunged into the ocean, pulling you into its depths and making you almost gasp from the need to be rid of it. You might go out into the street, run somewhere to meet friends, anything so as not to feel the aching emptiness, and it might work – but sometimes the emptiness will fill every space you reach and you won’t manage to disentangle yourself from its claws.
So strange, how lack can be so real, almost touchable.