IN HER ESSAY “GOODBYE TO ALL THAT,” JOAN DIDION OUTLINES THE VOLATILE EXPERIENCE OF LIFE IN “THE CITY” — FRESH PEACHES AND SUBWAY BREEZES IN MIDTOWN MANHATTAN, DESOLATE TEARS IN CHINESE LAUNDRIES, NEW FACES AND CHEAP RED WINE — CAPTURING THE FANTASTIC “MIRAGE” OF “ALL THAT.” THE MIRAGE, OF COURSE, IS THE ILLUSION THAT THIS MERCURIAL MAGIC EXISTS EXCLUSIVELY IN NEW YORK CITY. THE CITY DOES POSSESS A UNIQUE ABILITY, AS DIDION RECOUNTS, TO DELIGHT, DISAPPOINT, AND ALWAYS CHALLENGE, BUT SAYING GOODBYE TO ALL THAT CAN ALSO UNLOCK THE OPPORTUNITY TO CHANNEL THE CITY’S SOMETIMES ENCHANTMENT INTO CURIOSITY, CREATIVITY AND A NEW CHAPTER.
Didion said goodbye to the "All That" three years before she wrote her essay in 1967, but as her prolific career confirms, she never gave up the city’s impetus. Libby Callaway also said goodbye to all that years ago, parlaying inspirations from a high-profile New York City career as a fashion editor and journalist into a creative life focused on joining people and ideas via her Nashville-based boutique marketing agency, The Callaway, and creative newsletter The Callaway Report.
WHAT WORD BEST DESCRIBES YOUR CURRENT EMOTIONAL STATE?
Dreamy. I have such a crush on Nashville and my life right now.
WHAT'S A DECISION THAT CHANGED THE COURSE OF YOUR LIFE?
Leaving New York City for Nashville — the first time. It was 2004 and I had a great fashion journalism job with very nice perks, but it didn't make me happy. So, to the disbelief and horror of many of my more career-centric friends, I walked away. It was one of the best things I’ve ever done, personally and professionally.
WHAT'S A DECISION YOU'D GO BACK AND CHANGE IF YOU COULD?
I don’t have many really big regrets, honestly. But with hindsight, I’d have done the whole college thing very differently — more rock and roll fun, less academic angst.
A SUMMER NIGHT SONG
A LOVE SONG
WHAT DO YOU WISH WE TALKED ABOUT MORE?
As a society in general? The importance of creativity in daily life. I don’t think that our culture puts enough value or emphasis on how transformative, expansive, out-of-the-box thinking can be. In terms of our conversation on my couch? Probably the same!
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE YOUR YOUNGER SELF?
Chill the fuck out. Don’t be afraid to defy expectations. And be more open to the help and advice of potential mentors.
AN ULTIMATE INTERIOR
Tony Duquette's office at Dawnridge
YOUR FAVORITE CHILDHOOD PICTURE
I loved the nativity set that my mother brought out each Christmas. Thus, this homage to the classic Christmas scene, featuring the “Virgin Mary” (me, dressed in my mom’s nightgown), dramatically swooning over “Baby Jesus” (my younger sister, Marie), as he lay in his “manger” (a plastic washtub).
A SCREENSHOT OF A NOTE ON YOUR PHONE
WHAT DO YOU CONSIDER YOUR MOST ADMIRABLE VIRTUE?
WHAT IS YOUR MOST IRRESISTIBLE VICE?
Procrastination, and cake.
WHAT ARE YOU GRATEFUL FOR?
My health, my family and my friends. And that I get to do what I love for a living.
A SONG FROM THE FIRST CONCERT YOU ATTENDED
A SONG YOU HAVE DANCED TO AT HOME
SOMEPLACE YOU WOULD LIKE TO VISIT
Miller House & Garden in Columbia, Indiana
WHAT IS THE BEST PART OF YOUR JOB?
Connecting talented people to each other and getting the chance to help great stories be told in new ways. Those two things are at the crux of what I do every day.
WHAT JOB WOULD YOU PROBABLY BE DOING IF NOT THE ONE YOU DO NOW?
An antique dealer or interior designer.
YOUR FAVORITE FEMALE CHARACTER
A SONG THAT FEELS LIKE NASHVILLE
A SONG THAT REMINDS YOU OF HOME
A PICTURE OF FREEDOM
My niece, Rory Jane, wearing a tutu and jumping on my bed
WHO HAVE BEEN THE GREATEST TEACHERS IN YOUR LIFE?
My sisters and my friends. They are my best role models and my biggest inspirations.
WHAT DO YOU LIKE MOST ABOUT BEING THE AGE YOU ARE NOW?
Knowing that I’ve earned my place in the world through hard work and that I’ve gotten here on my own terms.
WHAT WOULD YOUR 20-YEAR-OLD SELF THINK OF YOUR LIFE TODAY?
I think she’d be a little bit surprised that I didn't take a more conventional route to adulthood. In retrospect, I was strikingly naïve back then, and not at all in touch with my true desires and emotions.
THE LAST THING ONLINE THAT MADE YOU LAUGH
I am crazy about SNL’s Kate McKinnon. Such a divine weirdo!
WHAT INSPIRES YOU ABOUT NASHVILLE?
I love that I have friends who are thinking big and then seeing their visions to fabulous conclusions. This is not a city of layabouts. People work very hard and get shit done. By observing them and following their lead, I am constantly learning new skills and being inspired to work harder and be more creative in my thinking.
WHO ELSE SHOULD WE INTERVIEW AND WHAT'S ONE QUESTION WE SHOULD ASK THEM?
Talk to my friend Kerry Diamond of Cherry Bombe magazine and ask her how she manages to find parking for an invisible plane in Carroll Gardens. That girl is Wonder Woman.
HOW DO YOU SAY GOODBYE?
With as big a hug as I can get away with.