I often smile to myself when I am walking up three stories to get to our apartment, because of the sounds I hear behind the closed doors on the way up. Sizzling food cooks on the stove, pots and pans clang around while someone prepares dinner. Beautiful violin music fills the hall when our first floor neighbors are practicing for their next symphony performance. The new baby cries on the second floor and his mother croons her responses to him. Funny voices and explosions come from the TV next door while our neighbor's boy watches after school cartoons. My own little dog's claws scratch on the door as I put my key in the lock.
Once inside my own home, I don't hear much from the neighbors, but there I've become accustomed to the distant drone of traffic on I-35, the frequent sirens and blaring horns of the firetrucks moving out from the nearby station, and of course, the classic city sound of honking car horns. These may sound in description like obnoxious noises that most want to drown out, but they're not so bad. I am used to them. They are the sounds of home.
If I wake unsettled in the night and hear the slightly muffled wail of the train horn as it rolls by the river or through Union Station, I am comforted. Sometimes I hear people coming from the Mexican restaurant behind us, screaming with laughter as they run to their cars in a sudden downpour. Or on a day that doesn't require fireworks, I'll suddenly hear their loud whizzing and cracking, because the Westside neighborhood doesn't need a real reason to shoot off fireworks. Our building doesn't have any taller buildings immediately surrounding it, so the wind whips and howls around us on those blustery mid-western days. And when I wish I didn't hear the leaky faucets, or the pipes banging, or the dryer trying to escape from the wall, it's then the birds perch themselves on the wires outside, sing me a song, and remind me I am home.