Sunday, March 4, 2012

What Happens When You Sleep With The Window Open In The City

When you live in the city, and you leave the window open at night, this is what happens.

You listen to the sound of falling rain as it pat-pat-pats against the leaves beneath the trees in front of your house. It soothes you, and welcomes slumber.

You hear the sirens of ambulances and fire engines as they race to or from emergencies down the main road that leads to and from the hospital, which is only a block away from your house. It doesn't keep you awake; you've heard it a thousand times before, and now it's just a noise that's there. It neither stands out nor disappears.

You hear cars passing on the street in front of your house, and hear the gentle squeal of brakes as they slow for the speed bump. Occasionally, you hear the thumping bass of high-powered speakers doing their jobs all too well. This too is a sound that simply is, and seldom disturbs you or awakens you if you've already lost consciousness.

You hear snippets of conversation from across the street, where two or more people have gathered outside their houses to discuss who-knows-what in the middle of the night. You can't make out all the words, but from the tone of their voices it might well be an argument. You hope they find common ground soon, because these are people, and you can't simply shut out the sounds they make.

You wake up in the middle of the night, chilled to the core, but too sleepy to get up and close the window. So you burrow beneath the blankets for extra warmth, and you quickly fall back asleep.

You dream about "witnessing" the sounds of brutal crimes not that far away. A woman's terrified scream. A gruff male voice saying, "Get back here!" A gunshot. You wake up, scolding yourself for watching that last true crime show, too close to bed time.

You awaken in the morning to the sound of birds chirping and, surprisingly, the rain still coming down pat-pat-pat on the leaves. You smile contentedly. This is bliss.

You have to be careful as you get out of bed and cross the window, since you're dressed in very skimpy clothing you've slept in, and the sun is up now, and the people across the street (probably still outside their houses) could see you.

You're thankful that your bedroom is on the second floor, and that only a very determined and very reckless burglar would dare take advantage of the open window to slash the screen, steal your valuables, and possibly harm your wife and yourself.

You reminisce about the Good Old Days, long before you were born, when everyone slept with their windows open, because there was no such thing as air conditioning, and before that, when there was no such thing as glassed-in windows; when you'd be far more likely to have a friend or neighbor pop their head in your open window to say hello or ask to borrow an egg; when the threat of home invasion was there, but was so highly unlikely that worrying about it didn't keep you up at night; because people were nicer and more trustworthy; when humanity was actually humane. Or maybe that's all just a fantasy...

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