Traffic noise amidst the winds of change

The life was sucked out of me on 12th Avenue. The incessant traffic noise I wrote about on more than one occasion in my journal. It didn’t ebb and flow there but rather marched no cannon balled and madly screamed back and forth along that magnificent tree lined East Vancouver Street.

I remember mere moments of stillness when the traffic did stop for a light or for a pedestrian brave enough to cross through four lanes of congestion. I stared at the magic Holly tree growing just outside the bedroom window late Sunday nights. It sparkled. I’d never seen Holly trees before living in Vancouver. They can’t grow here in New Brunswick due to the much colder climate.

Sunday nights were usually the nights when 12th Avenue was calm. It was like heaven… a stillness; still loud but the noise pollution was noticeably reduced by a few decibels. The rest of the week, twenty-four hours a day, cars and SUVs zoomed by!

On this particular stretch of 12th Avenue that I lived on there were signs posted warning against wide loads and transport trucks as they were forbidden to drive on this stretch. More than one of those majestic trees had their trunks sadly scraped and torn off from a crazy wide rig. I hated the traffic in Vancouver.

My senses were overwhelmed most of the time by the traffic. I couldn’t seem to focus on anything much less sleep, even with ear plugs shoved deep into my ears. I got so fed up that I called the landlord of the house we lived in and begged him to replace my bedroom windows with solid glass blocks which he did and in turn made the room a firetrap with no secondary escape. You see, my bedroom was level with the street and but 20 feet away from madness.

The traffic didn’t scare me. Don’t get me wrong OK. It was the noise associated with the traffic that mangled my mind.

You know I don’t have Tinnitus in Saint John. I had it the whole time I lived in Vancouver regardless of where I lived.

I sat on the front porch and drew and wrote much of the time while the traffic wizzed by. I drew a lot and took lots of drugs to cope. I sometimes think the circumstances of my life lead me down the road to addiction. Things seemed to compound one of top of the other and I honestly didn’t have time to recuperate until years later except on those nights that we all went dancing or to Wreck beach during the day.

I would sit on the back porch to and watch my patient next door neighbor tend his garden. He inspired me to take up gardening later on the following year in another residential location of course. I couldn’t understand how the noise didn’t bother him or his family. I had a friend over one night and asked if the noise bothered her. She replied no; continuing on to say that she lived under a freeway in Japan and that this, was quiet.

drawing by artist jessica doyle, line drawing, sketchbook, leaves, leaf

And i guess it’s all relative to what you grew up with. I grew up in an industrial area where loud alarms, box car trains and deep guttural refinery, Drydock and port clatter into the air. After moving away from 12th Avenue to Franklin Street which was closer to the water and the port of Vancouver I slept like a baby while my boyfriend did not at times as the noises were.unfamiliar.to.him.

The journal drawing I drew sometime in May of 2003. The digital rendering is something I’ve been working on over the last year using Adobe Photoshop. It’ll be completed soon and limited edition archival prints will be listed for sale. It is called The Winds of Change.

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5 thoughts on “Traffic noise amidst the winds of change

  1. I completely understand the traffic situation! Our front porch sits directly on the sidewalk, with a busy highway (the main route through town) 10 steps away. :(
    I’ve lived with traffic noise before, but never in the heart of town where it’s constant at all hours. And don’t get me started on the crazy gangs of kids that loiter in the streets in front of our building at night.
    I’m beginning to realize that I’m a reclusive type, who wants to build a shack in the woods and live there with 30 cats (and internet access, lol!)

    I’m impressed with your ability to stay inspired, and the lovely pieces you were able to create in the midst of chaos. …which makes one wonder, if life was perfect, what would motivate us?

    Take care,
    - Tara

  2. So true… what would motivate us if everything was fairytale like. If you build that shack with the thirty cats please post pictures :)

    You take care to. Try earplugs; they really do work for muffling the sound.

  3. It really does suck to live in a situation in which the noises are driving you crazy. And things like traffic noise are definitely out of your control.

    I absolutely hate overhead noise (like when you live in a basement apartment) and the noise when a person has the bass turned way up on their stereo (BOOM, BOOM, BOOM). It literally makes me feel like I’m losing my mind.

    Several years ago, I lived in this tiny apartment below a woman who had the heaviest, loudest walk I had ever heard. She wasn’t even a big person or anything, she just stomped around her apartment (and consequently all over my head) like she was wearing lead boots. At night, I wore earplugs and had a white noise machine and she still would wake me up when she stomped around her apartment. I always felt unsettled, uptight and on edge there. I hated it so much.

    The apartment I moved in after that was on the top floor and it was so peaceful. It was like a healing place for my soul.

  4. I’m exactly the same way with traffic noise. It drives me batty. But I have a friend who doesn’t mind traffic noise at all – she hates the sounds of people talking and kids making noises. And that hardly bothers me at all. I agree it may have something to do with what you grew up with. I had a lot of practice tuning people out. :)

    Very interesting that you had tinnitus in Vancouver, but not in Saint John. I’ve had it forever. Maybe I need to move.

    Love the artwork.

  5. I understand too. In the past 12 years I’ve lived on two busy streets, and it is very stressful. I had to live in the first home for about a week before I could sleep. The traffic was just that loud. And both of my neighbors have had their cars totaled by drunk drivers. And don’t get me started on the trains…A total nightmare. It takes a while to figure out the timing, but eventually I learned to avoid them. I think that city living is part of the reason why I have chronic asthma. The air is toxic here. Every other person you encounter here in Detroit has asthma. Such is life.

    I really like your illustration! The color variations between the two colorings are nice. I can’t wait to see the finished product! I’ve just started doing something similar, and it takes forever! I’m not sure if I have the same amount of patience as you! Anyway, it’s lovely work.

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