*This story first appeared in The Gulf Coast News — The Courier.
“Fairhopers” or “Fairhopians” . . . it’s a debate that will split the Lovely Ladies’ Lunch Club slap down the middle. “My great-granddaddy said we were “Fairhopers!” insisted Reela Rae. “Humph!” snorted Mary Nella. “Fairhopians” has a ring to it that sounds like the bells in heaven and you know it.”
This same conversation takes place in one form or another several times a day somewhere in Fairhope. Like most Southerners, we can complicate the tiniest of things and make majestic mountains out of molehills. We can elevate a simple school issue into a war or spend millions of dollars arguing over a sliver of land. We regularly pat our politicians on the back then plan to run them out of town later that week, so to disagree about what we are called, is no big deal. “Sometimes, the debate is more fun than the solution” mused Mr. Durwood in the Greer’s produce department.
But what keeps us sane, what keeps us secure and what lets us sleep peacefully every night are two simple principles; life here is good, and we know it.
When the day begins, we pass people walking, running and driving down the streets. They give the nod, or wave, which is an automatic custom, and we know this simple gesture doesn’t just mean, “Hey there.” It really means, “I’m glad you’re my neighbor.”
Work takes us to small offices, downtown shops, art galleries, home offices or even coffee shops where we work remotely on our computers. We grab lunch with friends at a meat-n-three or pull out a sandwich we brought from home made with tomatoes picked in our backyard the day before.
We take art, yoga and acting classes and volunteer at the hospital, museum, school or church.
If we feel strongly about a cause (which is almost always), we organize a group to help. Stray animals? Families in need? Public park beautification? Consider it done.
On Friday nights you’ll find us downtown for Art Walk or at the high school football stadium awaiting the earth-shaking boom of the pirate cannon that for miles around frightens dogs, rattles windows and terrifies the other team’s players.
Our kids swim, our hounds howl, the mullet jump and the pelicans glide. Parades roll, shrimp boil and funerals hurt. We laugh, complain, cry and love. Then we are eager to climb into bed at night because we know we’ll get to do it all again the next day. There will be flowers to pick for the dinner table, cakes to bake for new neighbors, prayers to be said for the sick, gifts to wrap for new babies, and another sunset over Mobile Bay that will take our breath away.
No matter what you call us, we are blessed, we are loved, and life is good for Fairhopers and we know it.
This story first appeared in The Gulf Coast Newspapers, The Courier.