The Texture of Voice

Words mean more than what is set down on paper. It takes the human voice to infuse them with deeper meaning. ~Maya Angelou

(Pre-) Date 3.1

The way something feels, the texture of it, is of great importance to me. Call me particular, but I know what I like. I perceive sounds –especially human voices- as if they are a texture I can touch or rather that they are a texture that is touching me. Voices can sound to me like I’m being clothed in cheap and ill-fitting raingear or that I am being wrapped in my favorite cashmere sweater. Babies recognize and are soothed by the sound of their mother’s voice and her singing even if no one else would ever want to hear her sing. My son asks me to sing to him every night, and I certainly don’t have any plans to become a professional singer, but he doesn’t mind.

Voice has been and continues to be a big theme in my life: finding my own and finding meaning in other’s.

When I was barely eighteen, my first love, my two best friends and I used to fall asleep reading to each other in our dorms. The four of us, crammed in a cozy sort of way on one of the lower bunk beds, would read fiction such as the collected works of Edgar Allan Poe, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and anything by H.P. Lovecraft, for hours. Their voices, reassuring and familiar, washed over me as I drifted off into my dreams.

My ex-husband used to sing to me when we were dating. I liked to rest my head on his chest so I could hear his voice reverberating inside his body while it simultaneously rung out in the sound chamber of our bedroom. My life was very narrowly escaping being a gigantic train wreck when I met him, and the sound of his singing was soothing to the primordial part of my being.

It doesn’t necessarily have to do with romance, in fact I am fairly sure it transcends those sensations to someplace deeper, someplace that can only be touched by the texture of sound, by the melody of human voice.

A few summers ago I sat motionless in class, so mesmerized by yet another male voice that when I met him and in the weeks that followed, I had a hard time focusing on the content of his message because I was so enchanted with the sound of it, and to this day, I still sometimes get lost in the rhythm of his words when he reads stories aloud or recites poetry.

Various musicians’ voices have had similar though less intimate effects on me, and I suspect it’s simply part of being human. We are attracted to sounds that soothe and nourish us in the same way we are drawn towards any other pleasing atmosphere for our senses. But I have noticed that the sound of someone’s voice weighs heavily on at least a subconscious level as to whether or not I will foster a relationship, friendly or otherwise, with that person.

With all of this in mind, I knew then that I was in trouble when I spoke to my soon-to-be-third-first-date for the first time on the phone. I had already become aware through our email exchanges of my budding crush on his brain, but his voice was unexpectedly yummy. When we ended our conversation, I could not remember anything we had said but felt as if someone had cloaked me in silks and rose-petals and had replaced my bone marrow with warm liquid chocolate. All of this and we hadn’t even met yet…


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