Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Fair Hope on Wheels

December 20

Here I am on my second week of vacation, thinking about what makes Fairhope Fairhope and not wishing for an instant I were there. I'm in upstate New York, anticipating a cold front, hoping for a little snow and thinking about Christmas.

A recent blogpost suggested that I am more at home in the Northeast that in Fairhope, and elicited the eternal question, "What exactly are you looking for?"

The eternal answer to that is that at this point in my life it's not that I'm looking for anything except maybe a little positive energy, which I certainly don't find in Fairhope. Fairhope is in flux -- and while I think of myself as capable of flexing with the flux, it becomes clearer and clearer that that particular flow is not going the way I want it to. I spent 18 years in fair hope of trying to stall the inevitable, but I cannot see that my efforts are being effective.

I never thought of retiring to a low-stress area, but in Fairhope my baggage is too heavy. My expectations are, perhaps, a tad too specific; my memories too sacred and my heart on my sleeve. It's not gonna happen. The improvements "they" plan all seem to be innovative ways of tearing out the past...which is the only thing I cherish about the place.

Then I look around in New York City, and, sure enough, it has changed too -- it has beautified and upgraded its marginal neighborhoods, and kept the good parts too. It parades its history while embracing its future. And there is so much stuff going on, always, that the city continues to grow and to glitter with promise. Many of the friends I made when I worked here in the 1960's and '70s are still here, and people in the streets are friendly.

The difference is that in the days I remember New York, you didn't have to be rich to live there. The friends who have stayed lucked into cheap real estate when it was still available, and now they are flush enough, having stuck to jobs until they became careers, and having socked away enough to manage to live comfortably in this extremely luxe atmosphere. Others have found friendly environments within easy commuting distance and split the difference.

Well, in a few years maybe I'll be rich. At least enough to plan the move nearer to the place that I really call home.


Grammie said...

Interesting that your little visit seems to be turning into quite a journey.
While a sleepy town can have lots of charm, it is still "sleepy"... I know that it is easy to get caught up in the electric energy in New York...presenting you with quite a contrast...
I am looking forward to hearing about your next steps....
Take care...and Happy Holidays wherever you end up!

Finding Fair Hope said...

A happy holiday season to all! Thanks for the comment.

But I must say this: I don't think Fairhope is sleepy -- I wish it were. What it is, is changing -- from an extraordinary utopia for intellectuals and creative minds to a homogenized, typical retirement city for middle America. It no longer has a mission or a message. I don't think it will again.

Bert Bananas said...

"It no longer has a mission or a message."

And you like the mission and message of New York? Well, I suppose if you liked the two items at one time, you could still like them now.

What does the term "kindred spirits" mean to you?

Probably my 'joy' regarding my current location, in space and time, has quite a bit to do with the "kindred spirits" with whom I associate. But I am a very, very simple person, and admittedly it would take very little to keep me 'content.' Lucky me.