About Me · stories

The sound of traffic.

When I was younger, I was always fascinated by the idea of living in a house that was on a main road. I thought it would be so cool to be able to step outside and watch cars rush by all the time, instead of only seeing the neighbors drive by slowly like we did at my parents’ home in a suburban development. Whenever we passed a house that had a front porch that was on a busy street, I wanted to move there. My parents thought I was nuts – they knew about the many impracticalities of living directly next to street traffic, like getting in and out of the driveway and hearing the cars all day and night – but I still held onto this weird little dream.

The apartment complex I’m in now is just off of a pretty busy U.S. highway, with two lanes of traffic both ways and a 55mph speed limit. While there is a parking lot and a little bit of landscaping that separates the building from the road, we’re close enough that I can see and hear it from my balcony. This was completely unintentional, though I like to imagine the universe was giving my childhood self a gift. It’s incredibly soothing to me, especially at night – I could easily spend an hour sitting outside, watching the cars go by. In the springtime, when we have the windows open at night, I fall asleep listening to the rhythm of traffic – there are two stoplights lights on either side of the apartment complex, so there will be a stillness when the lights are red, followed by the hum of motors as the lights turn green.

Pinpointing why I’m so enthralled with this has been an interesting examination of myself. I think it stems from my discomfort with both stillness and solitude, or more specifically, isolation. While I do enjoy the quiet noises of nature sometimes, I prefer constant movement or noise, especially in the background. Cars driving by on a constant basis provides exactly this. I like having something to focus on, even when I’m taking time to relax. Watching traffic gives me a passive activity to do while my I sit on the balcony and take in the fresh air.

My preference for observing traffic at night has to do with avoiding isolation. Sometimes, as a night owl, as it gets later and later I start to feel like I’m the only one awake. Yes, I know that there are other people awake at any hour of the day (especially thanks to the internet and having friends in different time zones), but seeing or hearing a car go by at 2am is a physical reminder of that fact. So is passing a house with lights on when I’m coming home late from someone’s house, or seeing a fast food restaurant or store open 24/7, or walking through Times Square in NYC at any ungodly hour, all of which bring me that same peaceful feeling. Put simply, it’s the feeling of knowing I’m not isolated in my experience. I’m not the only human who stays up until 2am sometimes.

Most people would hate to live within earshot of a highway, but I have always cherished it. It’s why I could never live anywhere but the suburbs or a city – the slow, quiet lifestyle in other parts of the country that people find relaxing simply don’t suit me. I need the cliched hustle-and-bustle, the 24/7 reputation, as my reminder that I am never alone.

Goals

February.

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February is always a weird month for me. January, despite moving quickly for the first two weeks, slows wayyy down and seems never-ending. February always seems to show up out of nowhere.

February is also when I always start to feel the weight of reality stack back on my shoulders. After a carefree holiday season, there’s catch-up work to do in every realm of life. This year, work has been maddening, we are moving in less than two months, and I still have to get my feet wet with wedding planning. I’ve tempered this craziness with more reading, almost-daily yoga, and trying to reduce the amount of time I usually spend zoned-out in front of my computer. But I’m still overwhelmed.

Thankfully, work should slow down soon. We have had a series of daunting transitions one after the other: the original 45-store buyout, adding the new owner’s original six stores to our workload, buying another eight stores, and now transitioning the final store from my original employer. Every time I would feel somewhat under control, everything would wobble and fall over again, kind of like constantly rebuilding a house of cards. Now we have a controller who can get us organized, and (fingers crossed) we shouldn’t have any new additions for a little while, so we should be able get a handle on our procedures and workload.

Moving is only stressing me out in terms of anticipating it without actually being able to physically do anything yet. Things like that don’t sit well in my brain – until it’s time to take action, it will remain this pesky thought bubble that keeps floating through my conscious mind daily until I get to do something about it.

My hope for February is to feel a little more settled. To do that, I have a few goals:

  1. Get to work on time. Even with adjusting my hours to 9:30am to 6pm, my body still wants to sleep in absurdly late so that I barely arrive on time. I’m still trying to figure out the key to waking up earlier in the morning, because seriously, no matter how many alarms I set or even if I ask Erik to throw open the shades and wake me up, I go back to sleep until I have just enough time to get ready and bolt out the door.
  2. Tour wedding venues. After fighting about our guest list too many times (something I never expected to argue about!), we finally have a close-enough number that I was able to contact some places for their minimums, maximums, and availability. There are a few responses in my inbox already and I’m hoping to start scheduling visits. Once I have this one crucial piece squared away, I will feel so much better about wedding planning.
  3. Assemble my bridal party. I hemmed and hawed about who to pick but finally settled on my group of girls. I’m now in the process of creating bridesmaid “ask” gifts – which you can either love me or judge me for – and then I’m hoping to see all of them in person to ask them. This will take a little bit of schedule juggling, but it shouldn’t be too bad (and if I have to, I can always mail the boxes).
  4. Start packing our non-essentials. It will probably drive me completely insane to not pack anything until next month, so my goal is to drag things out of our closets and pack up things I don’t use daily (my books, our DVDs, my embarrassing collection of 3-wick Bath & Body Works candles, etc). I might also take things off of the walls and start packing away decorative knick knacks as well, even though bare walls make me super sad.
  5. Continue making my lunch at home and find healthy breakfast foods. I’m doing pretty well with bringing lunch from home, which is good for my body and my wallet. However, I’m still trying to work on breakfast. I’m usually not hungry in the morning so I need something small (like fruit or yogurt), but I don’t put the effort in to actually have those things ready at work.

The only good things about February are Valentine’s Day and that it’s a shorter month than usual. Once March comes around, I’ll hopefully feel a little more normal.

What are you looking forward to in February?