Without a fantasy what is left?
Well, okay, lots of things are, but the current economy has changed so much in so many peoples lives, wouldn't it be nice, if we could at least keep our fantasies. Those romanticized ideals that you keep tucked in the back corners of your mind, pulling them out when you want a break from "reality" or you just want to day dream. A "happy place" if you will. (And I do!)
Since the first time I laid eyes on Sea Island, since the first stories I heard, the first time I clicked on http://www.seaisland.com/, browsed through the pictures and dreamed of even a summer rental, since the very first time The Cloister entered my realm, Sea Island has had a permanent place in those back corners of my mind. While I have been there, I have never stayed, and when presented with the opportunity over the years, I have declined. I do not know the "reality" of Sea Island, and to be very honest, I'm not sure I would want to. As it stands now, in fantasies, it is perfection. An infallible culmination of southern charm and the Kennedy mystic, with hints of The Great Gatsby thrown in, just for fun. That's the beauty of a fantasy, you can make it whatever you want it to be. You can make it perfect. In fantasies, I have spent countless hours on Sea Island, have stayed in beautiful luxury suites at The Cloister, and dined on fabulous food, in an oh so refined, yet comfortable, setting. I have rented "cottages" and held events with caterers, flowers, quartets and tents. I have worn the most beautiful clothes, donned decadent jewels, danced and laughed until the wee hours of the morning, a tad bit tipsy from that extra glass of champagne. In these fantasies, Sea Island, is a "happy place" of casual comfort, tradition and old world luxury. "Reality" strips that away.
A few nights ago, while battling insomnia, I decided to do a Twitter search, in hopes of finding some sort of fun tid bit about Sea Island. I was thinking, maybe the resort had an account where someone would tweet random facts, or event updates, or even the weather. I did find Sea Island, but I was not, at all, prepared for what I found. Tweet after tweet from financiers, business news, analysts, all saying the same thing: Sea Island In Financial Trouble. What? How could that be true? I did a Google search. Article after article, headline after headline, I read in disbelief. "Legendary Resort Placed On Blocks By Jones Family" reads the Portfolio.com headline. "Economy's Tides Turn Against Sea Island" says Atlanta Business Chronicle. As I read, dumbfounded, I was a bit disgusted by what I learned. It seems that the demise of this great, fabled, five star resort, a resort that not only survived, but thrived throughout the Great Depression and World War II, ultimately comes down to greed. You would like to think that some things are immune to our bigger is better society, but that appears to be a naive thought indeed.
They called it redevelopment and expansion. The price tag was estimated over $500 million. It was an arrogant move. It did not work out. Hundreds of employees were laid off. Loans were defaulted on. And now, its seems, Sea Island has met, along with my fantasy, an uncertain future. Is it the economy, the greed, the bigger is better mentality or just "reality" that sinks the unsinkable? I don't know the answer to that. My guess is that it is a combination of all those things and more.
I always assumed that Sea Island would be there, unchanged, if ever I wanted to realize my fantasy, but now I am not so sure. Then again, would it ever be able to live up to all that I have built it up to be? I doubt it. I guess that is why I choose to keep the "reality" of Sea Island at arms length. Preferring rather, to save it for the future or simply for fantasies. It is good to have fantasies, and I think I am going to hold on to mine for a while longer. After all, if you actually go inside the Guggenheim, rather than sitting outside, on a bench, staring at it, while eating a miniature candy bar, what is left?