February 28, 2010
This is Sunday, the last day of my one-month vacay in Fairhope. It's been by turns edifying, exhilarating, stimulating, and disappointing--but I'm leaving with a sense of accomplishment and eagerness to get back to my life in New Jersey. By far the best part of the vacation was the escape to moderate temperatures in a February that may go on record as one of the most brutal in the Northeast since they started noting such things in weather history.
I'm starting to get packed, and hope for a marathon tutorial on my new Mac today from the person I refer to as my Mac-friend, who has the patience of Job and knows the equipment literally from the inside out. When I sit at a computer I tend to think of it as a glorified typewriter, and ignore many of the features and programs that would make working on it easier and more effective than the old Smith Corona. Maybe I'll get some new information that will bring me more in line with the 21st Century. However, knowing computer-geeks types under the age of 60, I may not see him at all today and will be on my own with the electronics.
I tell some of the story of this month on my other blog, Finding Myself in Hoboken. It will be months and perhaps years before I actually know what I got out of this month, but I am already trying to address its significance. The weather factor is really what brought me here, but Fairhope itself imposed its will on my journey by throwing a few people in my path and exposing me to the ambiance unique to the town. The family homestead in Montrose seems to have been sold (with a closing date set for mid-March) and my brother and I were drawn closer in our mutual dealings with the absent sister who has all the cards. I did not have time to accomplish all the things on my own agenda, but none was crucial, and, being on vacation, I did not push myself to do anything that didn't come rather easily.
I took out a temporary membership at the gym at the hospital and kept up my exercise program as well as I could--going at least three times every week and usually four, as I do in Hoboken. I tried to watch what I ate, but have no doubt will have gained a few pounds. I went to a lot of dinner parties and even gave one myself.
Being in Fairhope changes people a little, and I hope I have changed for the better this time. I reflected on why I left and why I still enjoy the place when I return, and why I look forward to leaving and also look forward to a return visit next year. Just thinking about all that will change you a little. Fairhope means more to me than it might to most people, because it ignites inner conflict ("You can't go home again") that may never be resolved, or might actually have been resolved years ago. My book The Fair Hope of Heaven describes this pretty well, I think.
I visited with so many people, way more than I do in a month in Hoboken. Most of them assume I've got at least one more book in me, and all who do beg me to write about something other than Fairhope. I came here with the intention of starting work on just that, and have not written one word of it.
Starting work as a writer doesn't always mean writing. What is buzzing around in my brain now may well become a book in coming years. If so, I think it will be a good one. And I think Fairhope will have a place in it, if only because of my own back story, having grown up in Utopia (apologies to Paul Gaston, who has a recent and excellent book about Fairhope with that title), left it, and never stopped looking back.