I would like a quiet day. One. One quiet day without the residue of yesterday or headwinds of tomorrow. Just the day, one. A quiet one during which I could just let the river run past and feel the cool and heat of the sand and the sounds of gulls or osprey and, of course, waves; when I define quiet I include birds and waves.
I would like one of those days where I’m not waiting for a loan rejection or essay rejection to filter back, or when I’m not anticipating appointments or deadlines. A day where the phone doesn’t ring and no one knocks except family, ready with a joke or an old story to get us all laughing and remembering and planning. Usually quiet days include laughter and stories.
A day to myself like I used to do when I drove into Manhattan and walked from Herald Square all the way up and through part of the park, talking to the vendors or checking out the music along the way coming from the cafes and radios. When I explain “quiet day” I must include the sounds of the city as natural and organic as the osprey and waves since they are expected. Plus, they aren’t talking to me as much as for me so no response is expected or necessary, just my presence. Family is like that too.
My life is not unlike Thoreau’s in that my retreat is near the water in the woods where I am able to regroup, not to ignore civilization as much as be better prepared to face it. So I would like one day. One. One quiet day where I could live deliberately and be in absolute touch with the passing of time solely for the sake of the passing of time, to watch the seconds, to count the minutes. I could lean against a tree and hear the combine on the neighbor’s farm or the rigging on the boats on the river. There is a thin, very thin, line between quiet and the sound of rigging in the early morning hours.
I was thinking the other day about the quiet days in college when a bunch of us would walk into town just to get something to drink and everyone would be talking at once, and laughing at once at different things, and we were always like that and we were always going to be like that. If my mind wandered at all it was to exaggerate, to magnify, the sweet and passive activity of such permanent transience. If I am going to define “quiet days” I can’t leave off my friends. Or a drink or two.
I have had many days which I would “formally” call quiet by the Oxford definition. In Spain, at home on the river when it is early, or late. When I was young and hiked through Heckscher State Park. Sometimes when I am alone at home I fiddle around the house, working out on the property or on the porch, and can go from sunrise to sunset without a sound and it can be deafening. But those are literal, and I have come to understand that true peace is not the absence of noise but rather the presence of love.
I remember a beautiful, perfect, quiet evening a long time ago when a friend of mine and I went to an Italian restaurant in a run-down strip mall, and they were almost closed but they let us order some bread and a bottle of wine and we talked for hours, joking with the woman who worked there but mostly just laughing together about now and about thirty years ago. We finished each other’s sentences and the wine and then went our own ways quietly, content at such perfect time, but not really because it isn’t always that way, is it? No, it isn’t, though it should be.
I would like a quiet day like that again.