the sound of a new place

When you live somewhere new, you get used to all the sounds of that new place eventually, over time. You become accustomed to the creaks in the house, the sounds that frequent outside your place of residence, and even the noise your roommates make. I write this as I lay in bed, having tried to sleep but kept up by the noise of the snow removal happening outside my window. Here in Whitehorse, snow removal on the streets is not something that happens every time it snows. No that would just be too easy… I mean there are not that many streets in town, it really could not possibly take that long to do it frequently. Instead, snow removal happens on a random night, months after snow has been falling, once it has already been packed down nice from all the cars driving over it daily. It’s not as easy as running a plow across the street to pick up freshly laid snow; now the plow has to break up the snow that has been packed down, then it is able to plow it off the roads.

Now this isn’t a normal sound by any means, like I said, it’s not done daily, or even weekly, or monthly. In fact this is the first time I have had to hear the sounds. But I can tell you this much, listening to them break up the snow, and move their snow plows around noisily, does not bode well for a good night’s rest. Do they know they make loud beeping noises when they back up? Is there not a way to turn these functions off at night? I guess it could be worse…

At home, where I grew up, I don’t recall the noises really keeping me up. I lived in the same house most my life, so I was well used to the noises by the time I grew up. University, well living in a dorm room on residence you mostly have to get used to your roommate.. and well I will save that for another time. But I remember when my parents moved to the house they are in now, it was eery. The house was bigger and sound traveled differently I could hear everything that happened in the kitchen, which was normally just my parents having people over and me going to bed before they were done being social. But another noise I had to get used to were the trains. The first few times I heard the train go by, I was not impressed. Though we were not that close to them, when awake, you can definitely hear them. But they were not so loud as to wake you out of slumber. But after a few times, I actually came to enjoy the sound of the train passing. Wondering as I would drift off to sleep, where the train may end up and who may be on it. That was a sound I had no problem getting used to.

Australia wasn’t so bad. I never spent long enough in one place, having only lived there for 10 months, and lived in three different accommodations. My first place of residency was like Melrose Place mixed with a university dorm. Though there were curfews on noise, you could always hear the faint whispers of parties being had in far off rooms, or the sounds of neighbours hooking up. And the gossip could really keep you up all night. The next place I lived was like a temple in comparison,  quiet and serene. I had two roommates, one I barely saw and the other who was quite lovely. The only noise that I had to get used to was the sound of geckos. The chirping was something that used to creep me out at first, I never knew if they were on the inside or outside of the house. I found myself checking my room over constantly to see. Usually turning up empty handed, and eventually finding a way to let the chirping lull me to sleep. In my last place of residence, I lived with a lovely woman and her daughter. No outside noises. No noise that could be helped. It was only the creaks of the house that I had to get used to. Which I never did, being there only 6 weeks and all.

In Thailand I remember waking up to roosters… yes you read that correctly. I did not live on a farm, why am I waking up on a weekend to the sound of a rooster crowing at 6am? Because roosters and chickens wandered around my neighbourhood like they owned the place. Being scared of birds and all, this was terrifying enough as it is. But that noise is something I found hard to sleep through or get used to. And on top of the rooster, two days a week –I believe Wednesday and Sunday, if I am not mistaken– I could hear the chants and songs from the temple that was in my neighbourhood. And not because I lived that close to it, but because they had a PA system throughout the neighbourhood that would project the temple’s chants for all to hear. That was definitely a difficult sound to get used to, especially since I didn’t speak Thai and was never quite sure what they were even saying. Oh but that wasn’t all… have you ever lived near a karaoke bar? I have. At my house in Thailand, there was a karaoke bar located a ways down the road, and some nights the calamitous noise that came from that bar made my head throb. Some nights it bounced off other houses in the neighbourhood and I could swear my neighbours were singing karaoke in their houses. Eventually Leah and I took my Australian friends, when they were up visiting, and we checked out that karaoke bar. Perhaps we should have just joined in every night, would have been a lot more entertaining.

But seriously, that beeping is still going on, how do they expect people to sleep through this?

It’s difficult to leave ones home, so familiar and known. Though not thought about often, it’s these foreign noises, especially the ones at night, that are a reminder that I am not at home. And sometimes it doesn’t feel like home until I find that I no longer notice these noises and am able to sleep in peace without acknowledging the existence of noises at all.

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