I wanted everybody I knew to see the renovations, including my electrician/plumber and my contractor and certainly their wives and kids. I wanted to bring together my neighbors and the friends I’d made at the Rosendale Theatre Collective. I wanted my family to meet the cast of characters in my new life so far.
I invited the committee I’m on from the Rosendale two weeks ago Monday. I sent a few emails and buttonholed neighbors as I saw them. I began amassing bottles of wine—bubbly, red, and white, and got the ingredients for ginger lemonade and bottles of water for non-drinkers. I started baking two days before the party and on the day-of had only to clean up, most of which consisted of shoving what I didn’t know what to do with into cartons and shoving the cartons into out of the way closets. I didn’t know if I’d ever remember where anything was.
The announced party hours were 5 P.M.-9 P.M. I’ve given enough parties to know the hours are usually ignored. The times were designed as a guide that it was not going to be a dinner party but I would have a lot of hors d’oeuvre and stuff to drink. It never works out that way, but I gave it a try. I did include crudités, lots of cheeses, crackers, nuts, and house specialties like salmon mousse. It was a meal, but not all that substantial.
At about 5:15 the first guest showed up. He was Howie, the new man on the Rosendale committee. Very nice guy and a good conversationalist, but for 20 minutes he was the only one I had to converse with. Then Gary showed up, one of the men who had just moved from the house next door. His partner didn’t come with him. Too bad--Gary had already seen the renovations to the house and maybe now his husband never would. They live just a few blocks away, but you never know. That’s one reason to give parties.
About six the third guest arrived—my actor friend Doug Motel, who had emailed me that he might do some readings if it seemed appropriate. I was delighted—I love to see him do his thing, and it inspired me to get one of my Dorothy Parker monologues out of mothballs and read it if I felt like it. Wine was beginning to flow and by now a few more people trickled in. This is typical. Note to self: Expect the party to begin an hour after the appointed time. Early arrivals are just gravy.
My grandson Andy showed up with August, his friend and soccer teammate (and the son of my contractor). They had lost the game, and it was a big one, but they were not heartbroken. They circulated, ate some of the candy bacon, and were wonderful guests.
What do you talk about at a party? The theme was ML in a new-old house, so all I had to do was show people around and point out the décor. I’m very pleased with everything done to the house so far—kitchen and upstairs bathroom mostly, but paint was applied to the dining room wainscoting and some of the white trim had been repainted. My beloved stuff is everywhere, and wherever I could I dropped in an anecdote that gave the history of the objects, the artwork, and their connection to me. I was so self-obsessed that I may have left my guests to their own devices for obtaining food and drink. There was a lot left over. I may have to have another party to use it all up.
At the height of the festivities 19 people were in attendance. Doug and I did our party turn and were met with polite applause (I admit Doug’s reception was, understandably, somewhat more enthusiastic than mine, but I don’t think I embarrassed myself. I have to keep a hand in the acting game. My friends must understand this. You never know when there’s an agent present.)
As the size of the crowd dwindled, I prevailed on a few to stick around so I didn’t have to face the enormous silence alone. Then my older grandson, Elias, showed up in a jaunty, talkative mood and kept us going another 45 minutes or so. The last couple left, and Elias decided to leave and hang out with a friend.
We loaded the dishwasher and started it on its journey and I turned in to lie awake processing the successes of the evening. I didn’t go to bed until midnight—very unusual for me these days—and when I got up at six felt I hadn’t slept at all. The party had been a good way to launch into life in Kingston. Those who couldn’t make it have an open invitation to drop in, and those who did got to hear fragments of my life story they might not have known before.
I feel as satisfied as a hostess can feel the day after a long-awaited soiree. Bits of it will come back to me in dreams and memories—that is, if I ever do get back to sleep.