Crumbs From the Corner: Adventures in Woolgathering

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Guitar Man

My neighbours insist on making themselves heard night and day and the in-between hours before dawn, bellowing extended hellos and goodbyes at full volume while the stars are shining in the sky, repeatedly pressing their car horns and my doorbell at all hours, galloping and thundering up and down the stairs as though each step were crumbling behind them, as though their very lives depended on equal quantities of haste and noise.
My comfort depends on a little silence now and then: lately both have been in short supply.
We had neighbours when we lived in California; a young couple shared a duplex with us. A minimum of noise emanated through the walls except approximately once in two weeks when a musical interlude could be detected.
On cue, as I sank into sleep, the sound of a jangling, amateur guitar tune would strike my ears. The fellow- for it must have been he, it always seemed that way- would pick up a guitar and pluck strings for a minute or so. It was the note of a practicing student, an uncertain choice of chords that would not resonate well even in the light of day.
Then, invariably, there would be a hush, followed by audible evidence of the instrument being put back into its corner until the next musical event several weeks later.
It struck me as curious even then to observe that over the years we lived there, the tune neither progressed nor changed, the fellow never improved, the length never varied and the routine did not alter.
In the way of regrets gathered and lessons learned I would exchange the current cacophony of ear pollution for a fellow's honest attempts at musical endeavour. I wonder how much better my guitar neighbour sounds these days, and I wonder whether I am qualified any longer to judge: for I suspect that, given another chance to listen, I would hear only the sweet strum of a guitar in perfect harmony with the night and with a peaceful life.


San said...

Beautifully written, and wistful. Yes, I need interludes of silence. That's why I live in the country. I understand why you remember that young man's awkward guitar with a certain nostalgia. He was attempting to be at harmony, unlike your current neighbors, who simply want to be heard.

Phyllis Hunt McGowan said...

San, yes, you are so very right. With hindsight I understand the different sorts of noise, and the kind of people that make them and I'll never again be troubled by the first kind.

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