I’m sitting up in bed with my back propped up against the wall by two plush pillows. It’s quiet in my house, except for the dishwasher that’s running a full cycle of dirty dishes–we had shrimp tacos for dinner tonight, in honour of Cinco de Mayo, and I dirtied a lot of dishes in preparation. [Nobody I know even mentioned the holiday today, but if I had been back home, it would have been a non-stop fiesta. Maybe Canadians are separated by one too many borders to recongnise Mexican holidays.]
It’s calm here–there are no kids screaming protests about bedtime, no yapping dogs or meowing cats. No attachments. Everything is just the way I like it.
In the background, I can hear the familiar sound of sirens–probably police officers on an important call. Probably they’ll save someone’s life tonight. Without realising what I’m doing, I begin to worry for their safety. A lot of people I care about work in law enforcement–I pray they are protected tonight, as they go about their duties protecting me.
Then suddenly it hits me: those sirens I hear, the ones that seem so familiar to me, can’t possibly be real. I live in Mayberry, after all–a tiny town of not quite 3,000 residents. There’s not even a stop light in Mayberry. Here, we have two police cars, and I don’t think either of them are equipped with sirens–no need for anything ostentatious like that. (My husband will probably dispute this claim. Probably he will feel insulted that I don’t think his town’s police cars come with sirens. But I don’t mean any indignities, Poor Kyle. I’m just trying to make a point.) At any rate, the noise must be coming from the basement, where Poor Kyle is playing some auto-wrecking blather of a game.
It is shocking to me, the realisation that sirens sound familiar in my ears. As a kid, I fell asleep to their steady humming. Up and down they went, occasionally harmonised by my dog’s impatient howls–Sampson hated sirens. Sirens didn’t scare me, though–I found them reassuring. The knowledge that help was on the way–on the way to someone who needed it–was comforting to me.
It seems like I could have lived and died and lived again in the time that has passed since I’ve heard a real siren. I don’t hear them here in Mayberry, because the only criminals are bored teenagers out looking for variety. [Oh, and evidently there are a lot of white-collar criminals in this town, too, who get put away on charges of fraud and embezzlement. But those are the kind of crimes that simply require a search warrant and a testimony–no sirens. And anyway, we don’t talk about them, except behind closed doors. Certainly not on the internet for all the world to read.] I like it here; don’t get me wrong. But I also like home. Here and home are not the same to me, and they might never be.
I’m really looking forward to my trip home this month; I will eat authentic Mexican-American food (not the rubbish I dish out in my kitchen), and once again be lulled to sleep by the sound of sirens, if even for a few short weeks.