I remember when I used to like people. Growing up, I developed the talent of being able to strike up a conversation with just about anyone; I thrived on the feeling of making little friendships everywhere I went.
But two years ago this began to change, launched by myriad circumstances, but worsened by my now most-prized possession. I told my Dad that for Christmas I wanted a pair of large headphones – itty-biddy buds were out, big was so in. Having the most doting father, he dove into researching the best possible mobile listening devices, and when Christmas rolled around he had two sets for me to choose from. The first were sleek, silver, streamlined Bose headphones. The second were large, clunky, and looked like they belonged in the 90s on a hip-hoppin’ DJ; they were from (a then unknown to me) German company called Sennheiser.
Vanity drew me to the smaller ones, and as I tried not to cringe at the Darth Vader-esque German Goliaths, my Dad’s excitement convinced me to give them a go. From the first few notes, I was in love. They were sound blocking, base blaring, perfectly pitched; an experience.
From then on, they became an extension of my body, even though I admit they’re a bit cumbersome. The long curlicue cord constantly gets caught on things, and tangled in my bags and on my buttons. They get funny looks and unwarranted comments. But in the harsh Ottawa winters they double as earmuffs, and in the cold social sea of the city, they work as insulation between me and the rest of the lonely souls streaming along to their own tunes.
When I’m stopped on the street I innocently point to my headphones with a look that says, “Sorry, they’re actually glued to my head.” I jump on the bus, turn up the volume, feel my eyes glaze over, and comfortably sink into the recesses of the music.
This disconnect has led me to shun strangers. When I strut to work to the beat of my tunes, every person seems like a slow-moving pylon in my way. When I’m approached on the street, for whatever reason, I’m shocked – hello? Trying to be antisocial here. I know I’m not the only one. Wherever I go, I see myself, in the flow of young women travelling the city with their musical muffs in place.
For the purpose of self-rediscovery, I have made it a project to approach my fellow femmes with headphones, to draw us both out of our deafened comfort zones. Just like Humans of New York, my mission is connect to the previously disconnected. As well, this blog will come with the benefit of witnessing my awkward, shy (and maybe a little terrified) way of going about it.
A graduate of the University of Ottawa in English Literature. Originally from Windsor, Ontario, she moved to the city to pursue a family tradition of coming to Ottawa for post-secondary school. She is an aspiring journalist, and therefore a bit of a dreamer.