Wednesday, May 23, 2012
IN THE QUIET BEFORE DAWN
My soul craves quiet.
I know, I know. Much of my life has been lived in the public eye, where quiet is a bad thing, something as socially unacceptable as fiddling with your crotch in mixed company. And when I wear the rondavis mask I am transformed from introvert Ron into the Chatterboy – not quite a bon vivant, but definitely one of the most interesting men in the room (and one helluva tequila fan).
Confession: that guy's not me. He's a character in the play of my life, and sometimes I don't mind when he comes around because ladies love Chatterboy and he forces me to leave my shell and actually try to have a life.
But between us girls, here's my idea of a dream evening: on a couch, the cat asleep (please God, let the cat be asleep), a lamp on for reading, a good book open on my lap. And quiet. If a friend is along for the ride, all the better, so long as they want to be quiet, too, because in my perfect world there is no need for mindless conversation, no need to fill the silence with blah blah blah. That's my idea of a lovely night, and if it sounds improbable it's only because I've done a good job masking the introvert inside me. Only a handful of people know me, really know me, and they're the only ones who get it.
I woke up at 2:11 this morning, an hour ahead of the alarm, and after feeding gato (damn him) I just sat at the dining room table, a cup of hot tea at my right hand, a Martin Amis novel taking me away from thoughts of a weak leg and the quad cane. I could have sat there all day and never said a word except to the cat (quit your whining, damn you) and that would have been bliss.
Is that so wrong?
The greatest gift to come from the stroke has been the quiet. I feel more settled inside, more comfortable with being silent. After a lifetime of putting on a mask to cope with life, I no longer feel the need to populate my world with acquaintances, with people who want to hang out because they think it'll be a laugh riot, a hoot. The stroke has made me understand what's important, and it isn't being the center of attention.
In the quiet before dawn I come close to understanding, to clarity. I can't do it when the day breaks and the machinery of life roars into motion. A friend calls it the deafening hum created by the world. Indeed.