There’s this sound that I love. Street noises in Manhattan in the morning after it’s rained. I don’t know why the acoustics are different but I think the moisture muffles sharp noises.

In Tucson it can be too quiet. You can hear one pigeon cooing. Or the train from miles away. Cars all the way on Grant and Alvernon, the intersection everyone loves to complain about. As if the people who lived there had a choice. A leaf blower, my arch nemisis. The wind, which sounds like loneliness.

When there’s too much silence, any noise will trigger my body to flood itself with cortisol. It’s physically painful. My throat tightens. My muscles brace for some imaginary but anticipated impact. I being to worry about things that don’t need worrying about. I begin to dread.

That’s the main reason I started listening to music nonstop. After years of banishing anything that could remind me of happiness, I started listening again. As background, as a friend, as inspiration, as an echo of the joy I hadn’t yet found words to express myself. Like Nicki Minaj. Starships. The song I still play to pregame.

But in the city, I am never alone. Specifically, in the apartment where the 🦄 lives. Waking up at 9 or whenever he hits the snooze button for the fourth time, there is a subtle but constant roar from tires on pavement. Outside the window there are millions of people living. Not everyone is happy, but not everyone is sad.

People tell me it can be a lonely place. That it’s expensive. That it’s a rat race. That the subways are sticky in summer. That there are indignities of all colors. That the rats like to race particularly in Bed-Stuy. Because it’s more reliable than waiting for the train.

Bring it on. I’ve had quiet and I’ve had space. I’ve had cheap and I’ve had a slow pace of life. Convenience stores with every flavor of Monster Energy Drink ever conceived. Good Mexican Food. No traffic. Places to park.

Give me the streets of NYC. And a Metro Card.  No, really, I could use a Metro Card.

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