Sunday, July 8, 2012

Music from a Farther Room

The sound of a summer garden party in a neighboring yard makes me remember all of those we had in Santa Fe while I was growing up, with family friends, cottonwood shade, my Mom’s barbeque brisket and rolls, the strawberry cake I used to bake, fireworks on the Fourth of July, moths coming to the porchlight, the abundance that all of that represented—a kind of gladness in the heart.

And I think too of the garden parties in Sabrina, the chauffeur’s daughter looking on from her lonely, dreamy perch in the tree, wanting to join the dancing but not having been invited.

I loved to sit up in our cottonwood tree, too, eye-level with the moon, and imagine fairytales of love and laughter that might come to pass on some balmy midsummer’s night.

The sounds of merriment from up the hill that reach me as I write, tables set out under the oaks with the last of this Sunday’s sun in them, friends gathered for a celebration of something that has nothing to do with me, reminds me of the wistful line from Prufrock, “beneath the music from a farther room.”  Parties that go on without us are tinged with nostalgia for the parties we have dreamed, behind us or ahead of us, luring our hearts to join in.

image: Garden Party, Toast


  1. My black neighbours throw a backyard party every year around this period. Last night was the one they had this year. Laughter and music going on until after midnight, people talking, cheerful sounds, clinking of glasses and dishes, their lit backyard sinking in plants and flowers, mosquitoes and gnats swirling around the lamps and lanterns. The most joyous thing ever.
    The saddest thing ever was waking up this morning and see that it was all over, all perfectly clean, smooth, and tidy.
    I wish they wouldn't have that party. When it's over, it really fills me with sadness.

    1. Jay—
      Your sad morning-after makes me sad. Have you read James Joyce’s Araby? I remember a similar poignancy about the closing of the bazaar in that. And does striking the show ever make you feel that way? The last day of the Shakespeare Santa Cruz season always feels like waking abruptly from a long enchantment, and having to go back to a diminished world.

  2. p.s. Thanks for sharing that party—I feel as if I'd been there.