With cousins in town, N~ decided tonight that he wanted to do a sleep-over at Grandma and Grandpa’s house. It was bedtime when I sent him over. I had no expectation that he would be going to sleep anytime soon.
Two hours later, I decided to head over to say a final goodnight to him. As I walked out the door, I was hit full force with the sound of nostalgia.
My freshman year at BYU was a time of great change for me. I was over 1500 miles from home and having to take care of myself for the first time. Utah is an extremely different culture than where I grew up (and joyously went back to as soon as I graduated). I had a lot to adjust to. One night, as I was working on my assignments for the day, I opened my dorm window and was amazed.
I ran across the hall to the room of a long-time friend who happened to end up in the dorm with me. I pushed open her window, looked at her, and said, “Listen.”
“I don’t hear anything,” she told me.
“Exactly!” I replied. “There are no night noises.”
It was the most unnerving silence that I had ever experienced. No crickets. No tree frogs. Nothing but the occasional chatter of goofy coeds. She hadn’t noticed it until then, but was also amazed once I pointed it out.
It drove me crazy.
The summer after my freshman year was the only time that I took a break from college. I came home those months, then went back to Utah and plodded straight through the remainder of my college career. My last night home before flying back out west, I packed my bags, got ready for bed, and stuck a tape recorder outside. My final task before I left home was to make a tape of the night noises.
That year, I ended up having a friend I had gone to church with since I was a kid as one of my roommates. Shortly after she moved in with me, I pulled out my beloved tape and prepared to turn it on as I crawled into bed. She asked me what I was putting on. I told her, and she told me I was crazy.
Until I hit play.
After that, her last act before falling asleep each night was to push play so we could drift off to the beautiful Midwestern night noises.
Years of children who go to bed at eight o’clock have kept me indoors most evenings. The lack of screens in my windows have kept them shut against the mosquitos and, regrettably, the sounds.
But, tonight, after saying goodnight to my sweet little boy, I sit outside with my computer–remembering what seems like another life, and listening to the night noises.