Society Dreams: Mai Hallingby

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A small power boat in Mecox Bay. 7:00 PM. Photo: JH.

Friday, June 14, 2024. Sunny and warm has been the forecast over the past couple of weeks. Very very agreeable weather for a very very busy New York for the week and highly agreeable for weekends in the country and even here in the city. Although the forecast for today has added the possibility of thundershowers with temps in the mid-80s just for a short diversion from this perfect weather.

Today we are running another of Lauren Lawrence’s dream reads, that of Mai Hallingby, who happens to be a mutual friend.

What fascinated me about this dream is that it occurred during the time she was married to Paul Hallingby, a charming Wall Street executive back in the early ‘90s. His successful career was completed later that decade by arranging the sale of his prosperous firm of which he was chief executive to another Wall Street firm for an enormous sum that pleased everybody greatly, and certainly enhanced his already good fortune.

Mai and Paul Hallingby at the April 1987 PEN dinner. Photograph by Mary Hilliard.

Mr. Hallingby – who died at 85 in 2005 – was a good looking man, even handsome in his advanced age, and on the upper upper social scene he also had a reputation for having an active eye for the ladies. With his first wife, when he was a young man, he had a family. I don’t know when they divorced but it came about because of a very sophisticated and very attractive woman who paved his way socially in New York as well.

All of which appealed to his ambitions as well as his natural romantic inclinations. This marriage also enhanced his social presence in New York to the point that opened up his eye for other romantic possibilities. And it led to a third marriage with another sophisticated and equally attractive and social divorcee named Mai.

Paul and Mai Hallingby were members of the black tie world of very socially prominent New York. They lived in One Sutton Place, one of the toniest residential buildings in New York, built in 1927 on a piece of acreage on the East River by Henry Phipps, partner of Andrew Carnegie in Carnegie Steel.

A vintage view of One Sutton Place South, Manhattan. Photo by Wurts Brothers, collection of the Museum of the City of New York.

To give you an idea of the building: The Phipps’s penthouse had 17 rooms with 5000 square feet of interior space and 6000 square feet of exterior space. When the elder Phipps tired of the immense space, they gave it to daughter Amy, who had married Frederick Edward Guest, grandson of the 7th Duke of Marlborough. Eventually the Guests gave it to their son Winston who married a Bostonian socialite known to the world as CZ.

When Paul Hallingby divorced his second wife and married Mai, they moved into one of the building’s very grand and enormous apartments. Immersed in an active, high society social life, the newlyweds also spent their summers in Southampton.

After several years of his glamorous social marriage to Mai, unbeknownst to her, Paul’s “roving eye,” however, was still and probably always, active. And it so naturally happened that on one of his weekly trips out there on an express bus specially created for trips from the city to Southampton, Paul happened to be seated next to a woman, somewhat younger, a lawyer by profession on Wall Street who if she didn’t know him would soon would catch his natural drift. And it was not long after that she was invited into his life.

In the beginning, their social friends became aware of Paul’s new interest because she was openly invited to visit him at the house he shared with his wife. There was a moment even when Mai was entertaining some friends at a luncheon one summer day when Paul’s new acquaintance was invited to sit and sun herself by the pool with Mai’s guests at the table inside the house.

And so it goes … And went. The marriage ended with a lot of drama and Mai worrying about her “jewels” which always caught the eye of women around her and even those whom she never knew. Lawyers became part of the script, as did dreams as you will see from Lauren Lawrence’s ability to analyze our minds in sleep … right here.

by Lauren Lawrence

The Dream: Just before my divorce, I dreamt I was in my home and I noticed that the radiator needed fixing, and that the paint was coming off the walls. There was a steam leak or something. So I started thinking of how I could spruce things up. I went to the window and noticed that someone had built a large house on my grounds which was blocking my view; and worse, they were extending a long awning in my direction. I saw there was a woman standing by the window. She was staring at me. I was extremely annoyed that she had built her house on my property. Then someone came in and brought me a dress for a ball I was going to. I heard Kevin Costner would be there. What does this mean?!

The Interpretation: Divorces usually leave the psyche scarred, and the dreamer feeling emotionally drained, or detached, with feelings of remorse, guilt, failure, and instability. The self-image, often fragmented and in need of repair, often manifests itself in a badly rundown house, or a house that needs reconstruction or redecoration. At the first sign of marital trouble, it is quite common for many to dream about building new homes, redoing or fixing up their existing ones. Often the need to refurbish is internalized such that refurbishing a home reveals the wish to restore one’s exterior sense of self, one’s appearance.

The home figures prominently in the dream as it symbolizes the dreamer: The radiator needing repair refers to the absence of warmth in the home; the paint coming off the walls is a subtle reference to the dreamer’s thin-skin — she feels things deeply, which is why she has dreamt such a revealing dream. The steam leak symbolizes the need to let out anger — to blow off steam, as it were. This is the emotional release which allows the dreamer to begin thinking of sprucing things up.

The large intrusive house encroaching on the dreamer’s property is the other woman, the woman who invaded the sacrosanct territory of the marital home. Yet, in a masterful reparative stroke of one-upmanship, Mai outdoes her ex-spouse: Kevin Costner is waiting in the wings. This reveals her innate confidence and positive energy. Mai will not suffer fools for long.

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