Planes, trains and automobiles

I live within the NYC limits so you can guess at the amount of noise I hear every day. All day. And night.

The police precinct is a few blocks away and the firehouse just past that. Three hospitals serve my area, too, so ambulance response time is quick. We have two airports nearby and a train practically next door. Add city buses, cars honking at the traffic light on one corner and stop sign at the other, and it’s a wonder people in my neighborhood stay sane.

However, think about that scene in Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil where John is spending his first night in a beautiful and balmy Georgia. The windows are open. The curtains are blowing. But for John to sleep, he needs noise. A city boy through and through, he turns on a tape recording he’s made of NYC streets and the sounds become his lullaby.

So, I wonder, if I were to leave the city, and land in the center of a quiet oasis, would I be content or uneasy? Would I feel peaceful or paranoid?

I think it would be nice at first. Free space to breathe, stretch, lounge and soak up the quiet. But I also think the newness of that would wear off quickly, and I’d wind up looking over my shoulder way more often than I do here at home.

What about you? Are you where you are because you want to be or because it’s where you’ve landed? And, given the choice, would you stay in the quiet or hectic area you call home, or can you see yourself comfortable in the opposite atmosphere?

16 Responses to Planes, trains and automobiles

  • Thought provoking post.
    I am happy to say I am where I (we) chose to be. It’s perfect for us–close enough to a town that provides all the services we need. Far enough away that we have relative privacy. Traffic noise is muted and can only be heard outdoors. Does the quite bother me? I guess I’d have to say it isn’t necessarily quiet. There are people, TV, radios, machinery noise. But it’s a peaceful noise. I love living where I do.

    • This is what I love to hear. Many of us are forced to live where we are for work or to be near family. Sacrifices, you know? And we make the best of it. But to hear that you are where you want to be for those reasons AND the sheer pleasure of the place is wonderful.

  • I like where I am in the suburbs in Ohio. I can’t imagine being in the midst of activity you describe for any length of time, yet there’s also such a thing as too much quiet. I think we get used to whatever we live with, noise-level-wise. I have an out of town friend who occasionally spends the night, and she brings earplugs to sleep, as we are in the flight path of the nearby military base and the aircraft noise bothers her. I don’ t even notice it. Yet ifa loud car or a party next door will keep me up every time – because it’s unusual.

    • True, Jennette, when the noise – or silence – is unusual it will disturb us. I’ve mostly gotten used to the trains going by, shaking the house and cutting through the silence with their rumble, squeal and honk, but I’ve yet to adjust to the planes overhead. You can feel the engine-roar in your chest. However, part of my soothing evening summer noise, besides crickets and soft breezes, is the quiet chatter of my neighbors as their voices echo in the alley behind our attached homes. There is an odd comfort in hearing that, knowing they’re near yet… not. That’s why I think the quiet of the country would unnerve me… until I got used to it, I suppose. 🙂

  • I would most definitely live in a quieter neighborhood although I live in a small city of only 80,000 people. There’s something about “silence” that I absolutely love. I used to think I’d want to live on the ocean but when we stayed for several days on the beach in a condo, I found the constant loudness of the waves irritating.

    • How funny that you found the waves irritating. The sounds of water and crashing waves are often used in sound-and-sleep machines. I used to use the cricket or night-sound mode when I had one. I guess waves and gulls are so energized that they’re more of a morning sound than a sleeping sound.

  • I live in a small suburb of Houston, Texas. The population is about 90,000. However, all the cities surrounding Houston sort of run into each other. Anyway.

    The neighborhood I live in is very near the fire station. So we hear the fire engines wailing by a good bit. We are close to the hospitals, so helicopters roar over from time to time. We are close enough to the airport, that planes pass overhead. Mixed with that is the noise of vehicles, radios, you name it.

    It’s not as constant as I imagine yours is. Days and evenings are relatively quiet. That said, the barrage of noise is mentally taxing for me.

    My fantasy move is to Edwards County, Texas. It covers 2,120 square miles, but the population is less than 2500. At night, it’s just so silent. Since there are no freeways and no huge lights, you can see this world of stars. It’s amazing.

    • Oh, wow, Catie. The way you describe Edwards County is beautiful. I’m spoiled by the convenience of my location – deli on the corner, dry cleaners, Staples, Costco, gas station, etc. And everything is open until at least midnight, some 24 hours. But you pay for that with your mind. lol. “Taxing” is the perfect way to put it. And you know what? We’re lucky if we can see one flicker, forget about a world of stars. One day…

  • It’s a mixture of car noise and quiet here in the suburbs. However, it’s not really that quiet when you consider the sounds of frogs, cicadas, birds, etc. all around us.

    I did once live very close to an airport, and I got so used to the planes flying overheard, I hardly heard them anymore. If anything, I noticed when they weren’t flying.

    • At night, I love the sound of frogs, cicadas, birds, and all. It’s just a soothing reminder of life going on around us – smaller than us yet rich and active. I find the sounds romantic and cozy. Maybe it’s because we don’t often hear that here at home.

      So you noticed the quiet because it wasn’t the norm. Very interesting. I don’t know if I’d notice if the trains stopped running but I remember 9/11 when they grounded all planes. The silence was like a long held breath.

  • TOTALLY think I landed here, but it oddly feels like I’m where I should be. Naturally, I flirt with the idea of living down south (as I’m sure most of us northerners do) or in a villa in Italy. But in the end of the day, I think you may be right. I’d miss NY 😉

    • A villa in Italy. The smell of sweet green air, views from walls of windows and heels clopping on cobblestone streets. Beautiful. But NY is home. It’s in our blood. I visit my parents in Colorado and wouldn’t mind moving there to be near them, but if you run out of milk, good luck. They can’t walk to any stores – unless they’ve been prepping for a marathon – and if it’s after hours, it wouldn’t matter anyway. Everything seems to close up before dusk. A move from NY would take a ton of adjustment.

  • Great post, Debbie! We chose we live. Sometimes the country girl in me is overwhelmed by the traffic and on-the-go life as a suburbanite, but I love having so many choices nearby. Long Island has vineyards, apple orchards, and country towns out east. I live fifteen minutes away from a wonderful ocean beach and twenty minutes from the calm, Long Island Sound beaches. I have shopping malls, boutiques, outlets, and every kind of retail store within minutes of my house. Forty minutes away is NYC. Need I say more??

    I like living within ten minutes of a smaller airport, which can whisk us away to our getaway destinations with minimal hassle or expense. I don’t even hear the planes any more, although I rather enjoy watching the little Cessna planes occasionally circle overhead as I relax by my pool in the summer.

    All that being said, I miss the beautiful Adirondack Mountains where I was raised, where I skated and skied as a child. I fantasize about Key West daily (As my blog readers know!)and like Tuere, flirt with the idea of living in a warmer clime someday.

    • Well now, I’m not sure if you live in the perfect spot or if it’s just so perfect for you that you make it sound so right. It’s just what I would like, given the choice – to be in the center of everything yet have my little oasis of privacy and quiet. I think, if I moved to the country, I’d hear new noises in the night and lie awake with what-was-that syndrome. But a village in a town in a city sounds like the perfect fit.

      I’d forgotten you were raised in the Adirondack Mountains! I have a story on hold because of missing details that could bring it to life. It’s set in the Adirondacks. If it’s okay with you, I might borrow you as a source to lend authenticity to the work. 🙂

  • Rare as is true love, true friendship is rarer.

  • What a lovely thought, Jerome. Thank you. 🙂

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