Tomorrow I address the Unitarian Fellowship. The title of my talk is "Finding Fair Hope." You might be able to guess where I got the idea.
Yesterday the Fairhope Courier reported that I was going to talk about things that give me hope. That wasn't what I had in mind, but I can work a few of those into the talk -- things, at least that give me a fair hope for Fairhope. The kind of scintillating wordplay readers of this blog have come to expect.
More likely I will deal with contemporary, schizophrenic Fairhope, a town with a doppelganger of its own past, a town struggling against the wrong things (Wal-Mart) while embracing the even wronger ones of ugly buildings and lost cottages. Maybe I'll say it's all a weird joke, and suggest we Fairho's embrace the newcomers who have something to offer. Certainly I'll acknowledge that people who move here are looking for a new life when they happen to find Fairhope.
Everybody in the world seems to be looking for something. Most of us are just looking for home, some shred of a distant past when ideals --and ideas -- meant something, people were kind, and choices were simple. We think we can find a town where that still exists. We seek. We find Fairhope.
Is it a mirage? Well, there's this book, Meet Me at the Butterfly Tree, and there's this office that says on the door Single Tax Corporation, and there's this statue of a woman with an open book, "Marietta Johnson" it says on the plaque, who exemplified the spirit of Fairhope (Never mind that the author of the book was the author of the words on the plaque, and that it was I, but the book and probably the statue will be mentioned in my talk).
All these things at least speak to the reality of a genuine Fairhope. My hairdresser says that most people moving into a town couldn't care less about its history, and that she is one of them. So we don't talk about it. And I am undaunted in my mission to tell the history of Fairhope to anybody who happens by and shows a modicum of interest.
So the Unitarians, who asked for a talk called "Imagine Fairhope," -- which was the title of one of my blogposts -- may be getting more than they thought. They are an interesting group, and I'll tell them something about the days when the Fellowship was the new kid on the block and Verda Horne was its fearless, tireless and extraordinary leader. They're always interested in hearing about her. I'll tell her some of the stories from Meet Me at the Butterfly Tree, and others from When We Had the Sky, and some about the blog. If you're in the area, you might drop in to hear the talk. It should be fun. I promise not to tell them what I think about the new library.