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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Compost in the Daylight: Lonely echoes?

Maybe it’s not so crazy to scream at large bodies of water.


The English Channel is pictured.

“Echooo,” my sister yelled from an isolated corner of the lake. “Don’t ask me how I discovered this, alone.”

Every time I bring friends to my lake house, I drive them to a corner of the lake — where there are no houses lining the dark green edge — and scream bloody murder.

Then, the sound comes back. It’s replicated by whatever lies beyond the border. My company is always shocked, compelled and then thrust into the thrill of yelling to empty space.

Often, in the summer, I’ll drive the boat there and jump into the dark blue water — happily alone. But then I’ll scream at the universe, wanting to hear a reply. Sometimes, I imagine “echo” as a mythical creature. They’re a strange god whose role is to repeat the screams of lonely people. It’s more romantic than my physics major friend’s explanation: sound waves.

“How did you find this?” my friends always ask, with tilted smiles. The explanation errs on insanity. Did I just come out here alone once and scream into the watery distance? Thankfully, my sister likes to take credit for finding the special spot. I’m not sure though if she’s right, but neither of us can really remember exactly when we were first yelled back at, swimming one day.

This issue comes up a lot — exchanging memory for something else with faded edges: someone else’s experiences, dreams, photographs.

I didn’t remember if I had dinner plans today because I forgot whether I asked my friend last night or if my dreams had mocked me with a delusion, exactly like the night’s previous events but with added details that most certainly could’ve been true.

She texted me today. Problem solved.

I have a picture of a similar moment. I’m sitting with a friend on a beach in Brighton, England. We decided to scream at the water. More interestingly, we decided to scream at France because we saw it — right there, across the English Channel. To us, it was an uncanny revelation.

In my heart, I was angry at France because of a past frivolous relationship that saw spoken French surface in flirtations.

We yelled, “We are the smartest people in the world,” to an entire country, and we thought it was hilarious, but at the same time utterly emphatic. My friend took a selfie, and I’m not sure if I remember that moment because I loved my friend or because I was so emotionally confused over some boy not saying goodbye.

The trick is, I admitted to yelling at the lake all by myself before I suggested it was insane. The descriptive sentence sunk back into the column’s prose.  

So maybe it’s not so crazy to scream at large bodies of water. Even more, perhaps yelling into the distance isn’t a cry for companionship. I yelled in Brighton with my friend. That’s what’s important.

Maybe I yelled at the lake with my sister too the first time. We were always there together. But we will always echo each other. When you’re that close with someone, your memories bleed to the other’s brain.

It’s magical, not frustrating.