I come from a large, boisterous family, the only girl with six brothers. Although we always lived in homes sufficient for the number of inhabitants, as a child, it was often impossible to find a quiet space to decompress or to consider my thoughts.
Raised voices were the norm (too much testosterone, perhaps), punctuated by barking dogs, exuberant little kids playing tag, kickball or hide and seek, and accompanied by the sounds of classical music emanating from my very talented brother’s Steinway ebony grand piano.
More difficult to process, by far, was the constant noise in my head, the chaos of a brain in overdrive, devoid of the filters that make possible the sorting of mountains from molehills. I dragged that chaotic baggage along into my adult life, always half looking to find a train station with a locker large enough to cram in a steamer trunk chock full of chaotic negativity, then throw away the key and catch the next ride out for a fresh, clean beginning.
When I finally found that station and abandoned the baggage in my mid-40s, I jumped on the express train to liberation and solitude and have never looked back. A single, fat old woman with no kids at home, I live in the sort of solitude I always craved. Sure, the peace is randomly disturbed as my cats make some noise when they soar from one high perch to another and things sometimes go crashing to the floor; or the refrigerator kicks in with a loud hum, or the land line that I never answer rings with some scammer’s number. For the most part, though, my home is a peaceful refuge.
People often ask me what I do with all that solitude. I tell them I do everything everyone else does, just without the noise. After I retired, and before I went back to working full time, I could easily have gone a week without hearing another human voice, simply by failing to answer the telephone, although that would, no doubt, have driven my kids crazy. I’m neither hermitess, nor recluse, nor have I any trouble navigating the real world, but I am, alas, [gasp!] an introvert.
People tend to think of introverts as shy, self-centered, or just plain weird. They are misinformed, not that some introverts are not all those things. For an excellent bit of insight about introverts, their characteristics and the misconceptions about them, I recommend this interview, The Power of Introverts with author Susan Cain (http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/the-power-of-introverts/).
My home is my quiet haven where I can be alone with my thoughts, where I can go about my daily life without noise, other people’s dramas or chaos. It took a long time to find the peace in my heart and mind. I threw the key to the locker away and have never looked back. Don’t intend to, either.
Now I shall bid you all adieu, go quietly into the night and read, cat snuggled next to me purring softly. That’s a noise I can appreciate.