I thought if I could touch this place or feel it
This brokenness inside me might start healing
Out here it’s like I’m someone else
I thought that maybe I could find myself…
If I can walk around I swear I’ll leave
Won’t take nothin but a memory
From the house that built me
-Miranda Lambert, “The House That Built Me”
Day Three I awoke still tired but excited. It was Memphis Day. I hadn’t been home since I left three years ago, and I couldn’t wait. I cranked up my playlist of Memphis-related tunes and hit the road again.
I also should confess that during the course of these three days I serially and spree-ly murdered ELEVENTY MILLION bugs with my windshield. I got on Interstate 40 and I drove. I would not be deterred. The interstate in eastern Oklahoma looks like the interstate in Tennessee… things were starting to look familiar. I was in Arkansas soon, and of course Arkansas is just right there across the river from Memphis, so it was like I was almost home, but then it takes like five hours to get across Arkansas, but I didn’t care because I was going home, and pretty soon it was Little Rock and I must have been flying, because I swear to God before I even knew it I was in West Memphis, and then there it was! The bridge. And the skyline. And I was home. It was home.
The very first thing I noticed was that Memphis has a lot of trees. It’s not just Memphis, at all, because I notice it here in Charlotte too, but Memphis is where it hit me. Colorado has trees, but it’s just not the same as big giant trees with their branches reaching out across the street to each other making a giant canopy under which you drive. And everything was crazy green—I had left winter behind and found summer in a matter of days.
I drove past my last house and wished I could pull into the driveway and retake it. I drove through my favorite neighborhoods, and the University, and the old gas station my friend and I used to call “the Cute Guy BP” because so many cuties worked there. It’s a Shell now, and I did not find myself attracted to any of the employees. By five o’clock I was pulling into my friend’s driveway—my earliest arrival of my three day journey.
Over the next three days I visited some of my favorite restaurants, listened to live music on Beale Street, ate a foot long corn dog, met a man who has driven a cab in Memphis for sixty years, was served breakfast by the same server that waited on us fifteen years ago on hungover college mornings, hugged lots of old friends, and laughed my ass off at old and new memories. Some of which is a topic for its own essay, and much of which should not be published in a public forum.