Saturday, July 10, 2010

Memphis Women and Good Fried Chicken

I can remember one of the first times LK and I drove around Memphis.  It was late and after looking around I asked if we were on the wrong side of town.  "No," he answered.  "We're just in Memphis."

A few months later we would go on to buy our first house not even a mile from the gas station parking lot where I made my "bad neighborhood" inquiry.  And while the women from the suburbs whom I worked with, and the people from the delta town in Mississippi where we worship, and my parents (if they were to tell you the truth) all thought we were crazy for choosing to live in Memphis, it became home- our first home together.

In Memphis I found the open door to a job that I love and have been doing for the past (as of this week) 8 years (I suppose it's about time to start calling this a career).  In Memphis we had our first home, our first dog, our first over-night house guest, and our first child.  In Memphis we learned how to drive defensively and in Memphis we watched our first fight between two women who decided to duke it out on the highway- beating each other with their shoes! (Only in Memphis).

And since we were so far away from our biological families, in Memphis we learned how to make "family" out of the people around us (which would include people like the moms from the play group once Geo came along, the fellow grad students who would get together monthly and dream how we were all going to change the world, the previously mentioned suburbanites from my Wolf-Chase-Mall office building, and Randy- our perpetually drunk neighbor who tried to pay LK back for something or another with his food stamps).

And, of course, in Memphis we had great barbeque.

So when I stumbled upon the blog I Love Memphis it spoke deep to the place inside me that still, after after six years removed from it's city limits, wakes up some nights craving a barbeque sandwich with the slaw on top the way Tops Barbeque would make it.  And so I decided to follow her story.

On Thursday the author wrote a great summary of why she and her friends think Memphis is a great place.  For those of you who have never lived within the Memphis city limits, you'll just have to take her word for it.

Memphis is great because nothing here comes easily.
In this town, nothing is handed to you. Staying positive in Memphis requires overcoming a checkered history, chronically low civic self esteem, and the fact that other people constantly suggesting the easy way out.
I’ve thought about the easy ways out quite a bit. There seems to be a lot of conversation about them lately. Conversations that start with “have you ever thought about moving to (insert “cooler” city)”. Conversations about where I see myself in five years, doing the work that I do in a town like this. Questions about why I chose to come back here, buy a house and make a life.
Choosing Memphis isn’t always easy. I’ve joked about feeling like I’m married to the city, like I have to stay with it and make it work, no matter what.
But here’s the thing about Memphis: there’s loads of opportunity. In other cities, if you want to start something – a business, an event, a flashmob – chances are, someone’s already doing it. Here, there’s plenty of room to experiment, to try, and to learn.
Memphis is a city full of secrets. Some of the most amazing places and things here are hidden. You have to work to find them, but once you discover that amazing hidden patio or unguarded pool or bar in a warehouse neighborhood, there’s a thrilling sense of victory and discovery.
Living in Memphis can make you more open minded and  willing to try something new.
Living in Memphis makes you strong.


ptagoddess said...

Just for the record, I thought your little "United Nations" street was fascinating. Even more so once I realized you drunk neighbor was kept harmless by the "boss" lady on the street. What an enriching experience.

Florida Girl Meets the Midwest said...

The time that I visited Memphis I thought it was fantastic. There was music and culture and bbq. And whole holidays built around Elvis.

Beautiful excerpt about the city. I think we can all relate to feeling tied to a place.

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