January 25, 2010
Got my suitcase out, just checked the weather forecast for next week in the Mobile area, and am getting in the frame of mind to spend the month of February in a furnished cottage in Fairhope. It won't be like the trip to Bountiful, of course, where the old lady remembers a glorious farm of her childhood and yearns to return, only to find there is nothing there any more. I know exactly what to expect as I was there for two weeks in November.
But there is some nostalgia involved. I lived in Fairhope in my childhood and teenage years and then returned for 20 years, moving back to the Northeast in December of 2007. I spent the 20 years trying to connect with the Fairhope I remembered, and if possible to change it back, finally realizing that the "new" Fairhope had won out and I would either have to accept its reality or move. I moved, and am adjusting to what Fairhope has become from a distance. Maybe by vacationing there I can come to accept, not only Fairhope, but life in the 21st Century everywhere.
I've noted a number of people find this blog by Googling "Fairhope Utopia." The dichotomy of Fairhope today is that even though it has been transformed from the utopia of its founding, it is still being discovered by people who regard it as a utopia. It's not surprising that we are still looking for Utopia--Thomas More's 16th Century concept of a community that is as close to heaven as we earthlings can get. Even though Conservatives use the words "utopia" and "idealist" as negatives, they still strum on the heartstrings of people everywhere.
I've written two books about the utopian ideal that was responsible for Fairhope's creation. My first, Meet Me at the Butterfly Tree, was a nostalgic trip taken by me with Bob Bell, who had written an enchanting novel set in Fairhope entitled The Butterfly Tree. In my second book, The Fair Hope of Heaven (note I spell Fairhope as two words, as in the name of this blog and as seen in Paul Gaston's beautiful little history Women of Fair Hope)I expand on the theme of utopia to bring Fairhope into the present day.
All these books can be found at Fairhope's indie bookstore, Page and Palette, and more information about those I wrote are described on my website Finding Fairhope. I need not tell those who are not near Fairhope that the books can be found on amazon.com and Barnesandnoble.com. The best book about growing up in Fairhope and then facing the larger world is Growing Up in Utopia, by Paul Gaston. If you want to know more about that one, scroll down in this blog.
For a month I will be ensconced in a little furnished house in my old neighborhood, which is known as the Fruit and Nut District because the street names are almost all either names of fruits or names of nuts. There were never many fruits or nuts living there; it is a very conventional neighborhood that grew populous in the 1950's and looks it. My cottage will have all the comforts of home.
I expect to do a lot of reading and writing on this vacation, and a lot of visiting with people I've known for years. It will be a more social life than I have in my cocoon in Hoboken, which is so close to the city life of Manhattan yet so isolated and self-involved. I'll make a few book talks and do some work with the Marietta Johnson Museum. I'll bask in balmy weather (I hope) and check out the daily sunsets. I'll meet with realtors about the family homestead. I'll try to avoid talking politics and focus on what I want to write and how I want to write it.
Much will probably appear on this blog--yet I don't want any blogs to steer me off my bountiful track. Stick with me and let me know what you think.