What It Takes

What It Takes

The Sally Carrol Dream

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.

Posted in What It Takes

7 Responses to “The Sally Carrol Dream”

  1. August 31, 2012 at 6:44 am

    I have chosen a slower pace. I did learn that the bit I achieved in NY publishing wasn’t all it was cracked up to be, and that I come alive here in ‘the blood’s country’. Thanks for your beautiful piece that reminds me. Inspires me.

  2. Sonja
    August 31, 2012 at 10:14 am

    Well-said, Callie!

    Ahh, to live in a world where there are no ads that proclaim, “There’s an app for that!” Unfortunately, most of us are too far seeped in this e-world already.

  3. August 31, 2012 at 10:43 am

    What a nice post. There are days I like to leave the dirty dishes laying about the kitchen for a while, and tackle them at a time when I’m ready for a break. I find the repetitive work, especially when I’ve been writing all morning, allows my brain to shift into neutral, and the creativity flows. I had no idea this was good idea. I always assumed it was sloth on my part. Looks like I need to rethink my actions.

  4. Basilis
    September 1, 2012 at 12:26 am

    Oh yes! I like the thought!

  5. September 1, 2012 at 8:11 am

    It isn’t climate or location, but a sense of mind. I’m dating myself when I say this, but I wonder if Callie’s muse has been talking with Rod Serling. And that’s intended as a compliment.

    Great post! Here’s to letting the messes go. Here’s to treating ourselves with time to heed our creative mind as it roams through, ahem, the Twilight Zone.

  6. Lin Barrett
    September 2, 2012 at 9:06 am

    I love the obstinate intelligence of this piece. The tending of one’s self to the exclusion of most else is indeed the only road to sanity.

  7. October 12, 2012 at 5:16 am

    Interesting story! I had never heard about Sally Carrol. I think she represents a lot of people who wish to take life slower and don’t want to be swayed away by material excess.