Home is Where the Noise Doesn’t Bother You

Sound and our sonic environment create identity.

On a recent visit to my parents, the industrial soundscape was quite active. The trains were singing their signature song more eagerly than usual. Some nights the steel factory was active to the point where my wife couldn’t sleep with the windows open. It didn’t seem to bother me much, on the other hand. Having lived in that spot for over two decades, I guess it didn’t strike me as particularly disturbing. In the past, I remember it being even louder, to the point that even I found myself bothered by it.

Coming back to Barcelona, what I realized was that it’s not that much louder where I live now, and yet, the current soundscape is one that often seems annoyingly, and sometimes angrily, loud, something you hear me griping about frequently.

Just as I’m writing this, there’s a man shouting somewhere in the valley, outside my window, in a way that’d make Tom Waits look pale in comparison (in fact, this could be the blueprint for some of the more drunk performances on “The Black Rider”), and the gas bottle seller is banging his wrench on one of the bottles to make his presence known.

It bothers me less than it used to. Guess I’m starting to feel at home here (the cars can still keep me awake at night, though).