Sleepy Sounds

On a friend’s blog, I found a post on the subject of bedtime sounds. This reminded me of when I was 5 and staying in my grandparents’ flat.

Their top-floor flat was in a central street in Edinburgh. When you looked out, you could see a crossroads with a set of traffic lights.

At night I would lie awake for a while, listening to the traffic and watching their lights playing across the walls and ceiling. The vehicles came humming and stuttering past in a steady stream, occasionally slowing down to stop at the lights. There would be a brief few seconds of peace, and then the roar of the traffic started up again with a slightly different note – the other roads were active. Eventually those would slow to a stop, and the first stream of cars would start up again and be on their way…

It sounds annoying, but I never questioned it at that age – it was as natural as the roar and surge of the sea. It wasn’t until many years later, living in my own quiet little house in a suburban dead-end street, that I realized something…

It was very late at night and one of the neighbours’ cars came back. The lights glared in through my curtains, raking across the ceiling and striking reflections off the glass cabinet at the other side of the room. The car engine purred quietly, then finally cut out with an apologetic cough.

Up to that point I had been wide awake and restless. Then the car came, and I was transported back to that traffic-lit, urban world in my grandparents’ flat, feeling safe and sleepy. I LIKED the sound of the car at night. It’s what I’m used to.

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