The sound and the fury

I grew up in a generally good neighborhood on the northwest side of Chicago. Not much crime, a big park nearby, close to shopping districts and, perhaps most importantly, we weren't in the suburbs. Granted, my neighborhood was almost surrounded by suburbs, but it was still the city and still had a bit of a Chicago vibe to it.

My old neighborhood did have on drawback, however: noise. At night, I could hear airplanes flying over (our house was smack dab between two runway paths, one two blocks south, the other three north), cars from the Kennedy Expressway (if not the busy street a half-block away), the L train in the middle of the expressway, and the Metra and freight trains on the Northwest Line a couple hours away. All this noise didn't really keep me awake or was a distraction -- it was almost ambient. I would sleep with my window open during the summer and hear the night.

Planes don't fly over our Salt Lake City house. Sometimes if it's quiet enough, I can hear freight trains honking from about 4 miles away. But tonight, while throwing a tennis ball to Popcorn on this crisp November evening, I noticed something I guess I'm so used to -- both growing up and living here -- that I don't often catch: I could here cars and trucks whizzing by on Interstate 80, a little less than a mile from our house. The sound wasn't individual vehicles, but rather, a steady drone of engines.

I don't know why I noticed this tonight and not other nights. I didn't put headphones on when I with the dog, and perhaps the 40-degree air helped amplify the sound (airplanes flying over in Chicago are much louder when it's below freezing). Yet there it was -- the sound of transportation, the sound of the night, the sound of the city.


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