When I first moved back to Fairhope in 1988, several of my childhood friends, now married with grown children, had moved back too. At a party, the husband of one of my classmates from the Organic School and I were talking about what it was like to return. We complained about the usual – low productivity, slow action, some difficulty in getting basic things done that in other parts of the world were more efficiently discharged if not instantaneous in comparison.
I said, “It does take longer to get a service performed. Sometimes things just don’t get done. It’s trying – being forced to lower your expectations.” My friend’s husband agreed.
“But there’s one thing the people all have in common, one thing you don’t find everywhere else – ”
“They’re all nice. Everybody is doing his best, and they’re all nice.”
“You’re right,” he said. “You don’t find that quality everywhere.”
In other places we had both lived, you had to keep your guard up with people until they had been tested and found trustworthy. But it seemed to us at that time there was a high level of kindness in Fairhope. I’m sorry to say that over the ensuing years that has changed. The schemers, opportunists, neurotic shit-stirrers and just plain snakes have moved in with all the nice folks. Although their numbers are smaller, because they have moved into virgin territory, the damage they have been able to do is noticeable.
There appears to have been a sea change everywhere. I can’t blame Fairhope. It’s just that it's harder to reconcile the overall change here, where idealism once bloomed and opportunity meant a chance to make the world better through reform that benefitted the group rather than the self. I am sure my vagueness here will make you demand details, but there are too many examples to go into at once. I shall reveal more as time goes by, but today I just miss the days when being fair was a given from which all ideas and hopes sprang. And being nice was the least one could do.