Monday, October 11, 2010

The Sounds of Silence

If there's a stereotypical librarian characteristic that I possess, it would be a predilection for quietness. Despite my best efforts, noise in all it's insidious forms is unavoidable, and so for people like me moments of silence are rare and to be savored. Imagine, then, my surprise at my own unease when for the first time in almost two years the quiet of morning was not broken by a barking dog.

I think Chico had bionic hearing because he heard everything. You literally couldn't open a window, empty the dishwasher or step on a leaf without eliciting a loud series of barks from the other side of the fence. The barking was tolerable but annoying, especially in the morning when the world is supposed to be quiet and calm. Morning is my time, and Chico's booming barks caused a disturbance in my Force. That first post-Chico morning was unsettling, though, because the barking, I came to realize, had become part of the morning, and then suddenly it was gone. I had come to expect it, and I miss it.

I miss the neighbor kids, too. Where once there was high-pitched Spanglish echoing off the trees there is now silence. Their front yard is destitute of bikes, candy wrappers, and empty juice boxes. The house is empty and impersonal. Honestly, I didn't think I would miss Louis and Uriel (everyone calls him Pollo or Chicken). Many times their physical presence and the noise they made intruded upon me. Who knows how many episodes of "PTI" I missed so that they could play our Wii! Still, I miss hearing one or more kids yell, "Mr. Thad, can we play?" as I pull into the driveway. Granted, I usually said "No" or told them to wait and ask Ida, but I miss it just the same.

Those left behind usually have it harder than those who leave. Those who leave have some sort of adventure to look forward to, whether it be new house, job or life, while those left behind are stuck with the same house, job and life, minus you. I've done my share of leaving. Since 1994, I've lived in five different states, with 4.5 years being the longest I stayed put in one place. February 2011 will mark about five years in Atlanta, my longest tenure anywhere since graduating from high school. So, I'm not used to being the one who is left behind. It kind of sucks.

It sucked for Chico, too. He was abandoned without food or water. He never did get much attention, but suddenly no one was there for him at all. We fed him, gave him water, and called Animal Control, who in turn posted notices on a door no one was going to be opening soon. Word got out and one night the neighbors returned with a small bag of snacks for Chico, and then they left again. A week after he was abandoned, Chico was gone, supposedly taken by our former neighbors to Animal Control. I haven't seen him on their list of available dogs and suspect I never will.

We don't know who will be our new neighbors, and there is a certain amount of dread lingering over that unknown. What if they have a dog that barks just as much, if not more than, Chico? Maybe they'll be renters who don't look after the property or perhaps they'll be young folk who blare their music well into the night. Or worse, graduate students. Then again, maybe they'll be nice people. It's been two weeks since the family left and one week since Chico disappeared, and I'm getting used to the silence, although I imagine it won't last for long. It never does.