Breaking the Silence

19 Jul

I realize that I have not written in the blog for a long time–weeks, in fact. Please excuse the fact that I haven’t been fulfilling the obligations to you, my readers, and to myself. I hope you that you will enjoy this entry, and I promise I will be writing a lot more often. Also, please realize that the events written in the following blog are now several weeks old, and the situations described have, like bread in the open air, gone stale.

People react to silence in many different ways, probably because there are so many different kinds of silence. I could argue that there are as many ways to react to silence as there are continents, or countries, or people populating the planet. But, there are three very noticeable ways that we humans deal with the midnight monster—invisible, but with a notable, crippling presence—that is silence. Some people try to fill up silence, penetrate its pure, virginal nothingness with streams of nonsensical chatter meant to make a point. Others try to wring it out like a towel, and absorb every moist bit of wisdom before it soaks into the ground. But the common denominator between those two opposing silent camps is that both want to tamper with silence’s innate beauty. Those in the third camp, mothers of newborns, people in new love, and those studying for the big upcoming test, cherish silence. They do not wish to see it altered, but cradle into it like a Tempurpedic mattress.

I went on three dates with two different men recently, and I have experienced these three different types of silences, and I saw myself chameleon into each one. The date with the first man, Liam, was filled with silences I tried to fill with more words. When trying to fill up an empty silence, you can’t expect Shakespeare to come through. The first things that come up are the commonalities—the “how-are-you’s?” the “How-was-your-days?” It takes heroic effort to move past them, but in a date filled with this much silence, commonalities could do little to salvage the pieces. We went to a nice restaurant, and then out for drinks, and we had spoken previously on the phone and on the Internet, so I thought this should have been going better. However, we just weren’t clicking that well.

What about the last two types of silence? Before we get to that story, I have to lead you in and hold your hand through the little story of how I got to these dates. I was attending an open mic reading to support my friend who I knew would be reading at the event, only I thought it was a closed poetry reading, not one that openly encouraged participation from any patrons of the bar. I was approached by the organizer of the open mic—a nerdily cute, charming, talented man in glasses—who told me the event was open, and that I should read something. I sat towards the back of the bar, far from the stage where the readers opined about things like sex, high-pitched voices, and meeting new partners, in silence. I had erected a cocoon of silence for myself as a place of safety and protection—and antisociality. However, it was the encouragement of the cute organizer that made me go up and speak, and I did. I read a series of letters about how much I had come to dislike the online dating world. And it was well-received. After I had broken my own silence, I spoke to the organizer of the readings, who encouraged me to come back, gave me his number, and asked me to call him sometime. His name was Bruno.

On our first date, we had dinner, drinks, and a walk through Riverside Park. We sat in one of the park’s waterfront benches, where we discussed our writing styles, our histories, and exchanged wit back and forth with heavy fire. Each time there was a silence, it was like we had to catch our breath from the laughing, or we just had to sit and appreciate the person sitting across from us. It was then that I became the second type of silent person. I was trying to glean so much from this silence. I was trying to read his verbal and bodily cues like roadmap of where he wanted us to go. Except the roadmap was scattered all over his body. It was in his green and yellow eyes, in the stubbles of his facial hair, and the warmth of his smile.

Breaking a Heavy Silence

On our second date, we marched through Heatpocalypse 2010, stopping along the way for brunch at a Russian diner and two overwhelming ice coffees. We were having a blast. After a while, we came in from the heat, and we had a beautifully honest conversation together. This time, our words, like bricks, were mortared together with silences that each of us wouldn’t dare speak over. We knew these silences, sitting there, were okay. We need not alter them, or wish for something more or less from them. Like we accepted each other, we accepted these silences for all their baggage and all their meaning, and we hoped that they would change us for the better.

So, why such a long break in between blogs? I consider myself a very reactionary writer. This writing blitz that I’ve been on in the past year—stretching all the way back to last summer—has been out of unhappiness. Part of my reacting to unhappiness is writing. Even the creation of this blog is evidence of that. And, with my new enjoyable dating situation, I found that I had less and less to write about. But, then again, that might just be a personal challenge for me in the future. What happens to the writer who suddenly becomes happy? Hopefully, this long writing silence of mine will find me doing three things:  trying to fill it up with writing, trying to glean something from it, and enjoying the happiness while it lasts.

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3 Responses to “Breaking the Silence”

  1. Dan 07/19/2010 at 1:33 pm #

    breathtaking entry, mat. (no pun intended)

  2. Dan Drolet 07/19/2010 at 6:06 pm #

    How do you do it?

  3. Sherise 07/20/2010 at 8:23 am #

    I always enjoy reading your blogs & I have to say, I wondered why you weren’t writing. I don’t consider myself a writer but I also find that when I do write it is because I am feeling alone & depressed. I find that my pen seems to glide so easily when my head is clouded by negative thoughts. With that, you promised to share your summer adventures with us. Your audience is committed to you & your writing is a gift people want to receive over & over again. You owe it to your audience because in troubled times they want to escape from their own world into your; I know I did, with my recent situation. Thanks for another great blog & an escape. Xoxo

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