The Evening Song of a City

The sound of a city at night has always seemed romantic and distant. It is sound that come out a movie. Living in suburbs, I wake up to birds chirping on a spring morning, bellowing wind on a winter one…

Back in 96, when I was working for a client at Phoenix, a friend used to call me at night from his Russian Hill apartment in the City. I always knew when he was standing near one of his open windows because I would then hear the sound of buses passing by, the siren of a fire truck, happy bells of a cable car, or foghorns from the bay occasionally. I remembered how I loved those calls. Not because of what we talked about but because of the background sound of a city.

When I visited Mi for the first time in New York, I remembered waking up to the sound of morning traffic on the street. How lively it sounded! I even attempted to describe it in a poem.

But then again, maybe the romance and exotics also come from the association with foreign travels, when I usually checked in little hotels in the city center, Paris, London, Barcelona, etc. Waking up to the sound of traffic usually means waking up under a foreign sky¡­

Last night was the first night I spent in my new apartment. The biggest surprise was the sound of occasional evening traffic. The Law School of USF separates our building from a major thoroughfare. There is a bus stop on the same block. I got to hear the bus as it¡¯s loading and unloading passengers. It sounded so much like an old man¡¯s laborious coughing. Funny.

I¡¯m so in love with our new place. Especially now that most of the rooms are empty, it is exceptional spacious. I noticed little details that delighted me. Our bathroom has the best evening view. It looks to the south, where the hill of twin peak lies and all the city lights spreading below. Our kitchen has the second best view, which looks out to the bay. Lying in bed in the morning, looking out the arched window, I could actually see a sliver of blue sky behind the law school¡¯s roof; if I looked out the bedroom door, I could actually see the black and red mobile hang off the tracking light in the living room and it moves slowly in the morning breeze. Walking out onto the balcony in the morning was refreshing and peaceful; our landlady actually laid new tiles for the shared garden blow. I was so tempted to step out onto the fire escape and sing!

The phone line has been turned on, but DSL won¡¯t be connected for another week. No internet, no TV. I finally got to read Ted Chiang¡¯s ¡°Stories of Your Life and Others¡±, which has been sitting on my nightstand since Christmas¡­

It is always the unexpected little things that put a smile on our faces. Maybe that¡¯s why I enjoy the sound that roamed evening streets of a city. They are chaotic but full of little details. That¡¯s what our lives are made of, isn¡¯t it? Little things, chaotic but alive.