By Callie Oettinger | Published: August 31, 2012
Do you know Sally Carrol Happer? She lives in the sleepy southern summers of Tarleton, GA, bathed in golden light and “freckling shadows.” She was brought up on “memories instead of money” and raised within F. Scott Fitgerald’s mind. She rests within his “Ice Palace.”
She exists in a world free of 4G ads telling us to get up to speed, of apps for all that, of gadgets and gizmos a plenty.
Her story is one of the North and South, city and country, men and women, “canines and felines,” new and old, and entrepreneurs and good old boys looking to get rich quick.
Her story is also one of fast and slow, of not taking things so seriously–of holding onto what we love–and of learning our dreams aren’t always the best reality.
My favorite part takes place at the beginning, just after she’s been asked to go swimming by one of the locals’ favorite sons:
Sally Carrol sighed voluminously and raised herself with profound inertia from the floor, where she had been occupied in alternately destroying parts of a green apple and painting paper tops for her younger sister. She approached a mirror, regarded her expression with a pleased and pleasant languor, dabbed two spots of rouge on her lips and a grain of powder on her nose, and covered her bobbed corn-colored hair with a rose littered sun bonnet. Then she kicked over the painting water, said, “Oh, damn!”–but let it lay–and left the room.
I’d like to leave a mess for a while, a spill to pick up later, knowing that I can take my time cleaning it up–knowing that spending time with those who really matter, and doing what really matters to me, is the best route in the end–even if it means not going to the places or levels I once dreamed about. Because sometimes those places aren’t worth it. Sometimes, it is the quiet little Southern summers, bathing in the golden light that is the most important, because it offers the greatest inspiration. And I know that it exists because I’ve seen it rise through artists from the desert to the Arctic. It isn’t climate or location, but a sense of mind.
In Sally Carol’s case, we see it when she heads North, to where she believes all she’s wanted and dreamed about will be achieved. Instead, the warmth that heats her being is sucked out by the chill.
It took going there to realize she had it good just where she was. Plenty of inspiration already living on her side of the fence.
Where we find ourselves ‘tain’t always where we dreamed.
Today, my dream is of slower paces, of bathing in sunlight, soaked in what I love, surrounded by those I love, knowing that a mess can be cleaned up later–and in the end, doesn’t matter that much anyway. But part of this is letting go–of being able to stop cleaning, of being able to say the mess can wait for later, of not just knowing that cleaning all the time takes time away from creating, but of acting on more creation and less cleaning. Tain’t easy, but I’m dreaming in that direction.