Cold rain is hitting the side of the house with a regularity that belies the random distribution of droplets falling from the sky. The sound is remarkably calming, particularly when a slight breeze pushes the frigid February precipitation towards the glass door that separates my working space from the 2˚C weather outside. Nozomi is asleep in her bed, snoring peacefully without a care in the world. I imagine Reiko and the boy are doing the same upstairs given that it's almost twelve o'clock on a school night.

Behind me the hum of the fridge is distinct from the air conditioner, which is scheduled to shut itself off for the night in a matter of minutes. Every so often the hot water heater fires up to keep its 10-litre tank at a stable 41˚C. I mustn't forget to turn that off on my way to bed.

Some nights are best enjoyed when listened to. Tonight is one of them. The neighbourhood becomes quiet around this time as people turn in with the hope of a solid six hours rest before the next day begins. It's when everyone is asleep that I can hear the changes that have taken place over my lifetime.

On a similar night just five years ago I would have been reading on my phone while the sound of a NAS hummed noisily away in the closet that also doubled as a podcast recording space. Ten years ago the room would have been silent save for the ceaseless traffic of Highway 21 and the occasional passing of a JR train. Fifteen years ago the room would have been quite dark, but the bass from the neighbour's endless parties would shake my windows. Twenty years ago I would be sleeping in a bed much too large for one with a collection of replica Japanese swords by my side1 in the event someone broke into my apartment via the fire escape, as it was not exactly the safest neighbourhood to live in. Twenty five years ago the room would be completely dark and I'd have music piping into my ears via a pair of headphones.

What we remember about places tends to be the things we seldom think about. My memory of the places I've slept has certainly faded over time, but it's the minutia that tends to stick in my mind the most. Sometimes I wonder whether I would again feel comfortable in any of those places if given the opportunity. Fortunately I'm happier here with the rain, snoring dog, humming appliances, and sleeping family than anywhere else.

Late at night, when I'm essentially alone with my ears, I like to listen to home.

  1. I wasn't very bright back then. One could argue that I'm not very bright now, either, but I know not to keep weapons around with the intent to use them in a country where the "victim" of a crime is determined based on who needs the greatest amount of medical attention. This is one way that Japan and Canada are remarkably similar.