There is a Quaker church across Rte 9 from where I live. The sign out front says something like “Adirondack Friends Gathering,” and once in a blue moon there is a mini traffic jam coming out of their parking lot. I didn’t know that there were many Quakers in Glens Falls, NY.
I suppose some of the attendees could simply be lonely people looking for friends? Doesn’t make them a Quaker, any more than me walking into a mosk makes me Muslim. I can imagine the scene inside when a new lonely person first arrives:
“Um, is this where friends gather in the Adirondacks?”
All turn to the newbie and say in unison:
“Yes! Share with us what you have learned from your inner light!”
After the meeting I think it’d be nice if they all went out for coffee and maybe some Yahtzee at someones house. But that’s me. I’d be a party Quaker.
All my life, people have been telling me to be quiet. School, church, dinner, movies, dorm rooms, work, you name it I’ve violated noise level rules. Though give me one thing — it’s not that I’m reprimanded for talking too much, it’s that I’m speaking too loud. There’s a difference.
When I first started in staffing, my manager would ‘shush’ me at least twice a week. A pained look, eyes slowly closed, and two pursed lips: ‘shhhhhh.’ Even though we were the only people in the room, I felt stupid. I felt stupid mostly because of the disapproval, not the loud voice. It’s embarrassing. Who wants to be that girl?
Let’s pretend that there is a human-voice-volume-gage. Most people speak at a 4 when indoors. I’m maybe a 5, unless I get really wild about something. If there is a camcorder in a room, my voice will cut right through the air and embed itself in the tape. I can be the furthest away, but you’ll still hear me! I would be a horrible spy. If someone bugged my room and I was sharing confidential information, I’d be toast. If I worked for the FBI, they’d use me as a red herring, a mere distraction.
When I was in college, I had laryngitis for about a month. No voice. I was a zero on the volume gage. Each morning I woke up and made crazy gurgling noises, searching for my voice. I would exclaim, “I have it!” but others could only hear the “I ha…!” and then hissing noises.
I joke about it now, though at the time it was very hard. I was struggling to know who I was without speech, without laughing, without singing. This is where most authors would say something like, “it’s when I learned the importance of listening to others.” but I honestly can’t say that. I can say that I learned how to communicate without talking and I learned how to make one great steam bowl treatment. (Don’t add Vicks Vap-o-Rub to a bowl of boiling water, then hover your face over it. Your eyes will burn out of their sockets).
It’s a Thursday night and there may be a mini traffic jam by The Adirondack Friends Gathering when I go home. If so, I’ll scour their faces to see if any seem like simply lonely newbies, merrily on their way to play Yahtzee. If I were going to the Yahtzee party, look out! Yahtzee can make me pretty wild, which ratchets my voice to a 7.5. I may not be invited back, unless their inner lights whisper to them that at the very least I couldn’t be an FBI spy.