January 6, 2013: Night Voices

In the wee hours of this morning, I was wakened by two loud voices outside my first-floor window, one a young man (ethnicity undetermined), the other a young woman who, I think, was inside her car, its engine running.

Their voices muffled and, maybe, ten feet away, only two words were audible: “. . . . fight!” shouted the young man.

“. . . no fight!” shouted the young woman. And then she high-pitched laughed as if trying to keep their conversation light and breezy. They repeated this exchange several times.

Three-quarters asleep and not aware of the time (it turned out to be a little past 4 am), my first reaction was, “They’re Somerville High School students on their way to school. Someone from the high school’s mediation program can handle this.” (It was only after they’d moved on that I was awake enough to realize that today is Sunday and that these two had probably just come from a club on Somerville Avenue.)

But here’s what I, a peace-loving Quaker, want to say: How deeply I was struck by the excitement in that young man’s voice every time he said “fight.” How, lying under my covers, without seeing him, without knowing anything about him save his gender and approximate age, his zeal for violence—and its attendant drama—made perfect sense! As if, at last, he were being offered an amazing opportunity! I wasn’t hearing rage. I was hearing his relief.



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