My aunt is 51 and only realized in the past few months that she snorts when she laughs. “Don’t you ever listen to yourself?” I asked. This concept seemed to hit her like the first cold drop of a sudden rupture in the clouds. If another relative, of questionable sobriety, hadn’t pointed out this trait of my aunt’s, she might have never been aware.
Maybe that’s why she is so loud?
When my mom calls her sister, I can hear her voice on the other end like echoes off the mountains surrounding her house.
I, on the other hand, have stood in my high-ceilinged living room, receiver cradled against my cheek, leaving message after message on my own machine. I have obsessed over the sound of my voice.
“I could tell you were a singer, by the timbre of your voice,” I’ve had someone say to me. “Whoa, that didn’t sound like you,” a coworker of mine recently remarked after I’d taken an order on the headset. And these comments kind of fascinate me—the ways in which we perceive ourselves, or the lack thereof. How we listen to each other, with varying levels of overlap and dissimilarity.
I don’t sing for many people, I’m often my own audience. In that particular situation, I’m mildly terrified of others’ opinions. But my aunt is not embarrassed of her nose-hiccup laughter. Nor should she be. When she tells us all a story, I, too, end up snorting from laughter. There’s a brief moment when she and I look at each other, before giggling on.