Tuesday, November 30, 2010


It started late last Monday night with an abrupt and horrible sore throat followed by several days of mad vitamin consumption (including but not limited to vitamin C, zinc, echinacea, and my mother's old standby, Airborne*).

I made it through Thanksgiving:  an exhaustingly long day full of cooking and talking and imbibing and eating and entertaining late into the night.  It was fun for sure, but by the end dear friend Patrick was ridiculing the gravelly ancient smoker's quality of my words.  Just ask him about carcass.  Or not.

Friday morning it was whispers only, or painfully forced squawks, and text messages where most mortals place calls. (Also much self-pity and endless cups of tea and hours-long naps.)

It's mostly back now, this voice of mine, though still hoarse and, on the odd syllable, prone to giving out completely or emitting strange guttural sounds not unlike almost pubescent boys.

Nick met me outside the post office at noon today and we walked to our lunch spot together, talking animatedly the whole way.  When we got to the restaurant he paused and looked sideways at me and finally said, "So it's really you."

I gave him a quizzical look (as I often do with him, it seems), so he explained.  That it was strange to hear my voice the way it is.  That it was particularly disconcerting to be walking and talking and listening to this disembodied voice next to him; this voice that was not the voice he knows, the voice that is me, someone he loves.

I've been thinking about this on and off ever since.  The way that the voices we hear (our own, our friends' and relatives' and lovers') are so intrinsically connected to the people we know (our selves, our friends and relatives and lovers).

I've been thinking about how we never sound in a recording the way we imagine we sound in real life, but how to others our recorded voices sound like us.  When my partner leaves me a message I know who it is without him saying so.  But when I hear a message I've left for him I inevitably want to ask him, "Is that me?"**

This distance, this disconnection, between the voices that we are and the voices that we hear, has always been intriguing.  Perhaps to be further discussed at next Tuesday's rendezvous.

*Yes, I know about the class action lawsuit against the makers of Airborne. But my mother never travels without it and each time she comes to visit she inevitably leaves some behind.  I've finally been using it.  There's something strangely pleasing about its citrusy effervescent self in the face of an impending cold.

**Am I the only person for whom this is true?

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