Tuesday, February 1, 2011

On the Road at Last

After many months of searching and speculating, on January 2nd my husband left for training with the VA Travel Corps in Phoenix. The next three weeks at home were filled with packing and a few very special moments. I attended the 6th birthday party/concert for 89.3 The Current with Rachel on that last Friday, Saturday was our Saddle Club dinner and Sunday a dear friend and her husband had their son baptized. Sad to leave my son, his wife and my grandson, but it was time. On Monday Jan 22nd I left to join Steve in Dallas TX. This first leg of the journey, took me to my childhood home of Chicago. I visited with my brother and his family, checked in with my mother, who is doing better than expected and spent the first night on the road. I am lucky to be traveling with my daughter and a friend of her and my son's - Paul; so we share the driving duties.
Central Illinois - Miles and miles of Miles and Miles - I57 is sparsely populated - I55 goes south via Springfield and St. Louis. We chose the faster, sparser route to Memphis (Cue Paul Simon and Marc Cohen singing Graceland and Walkin' on Memphis)
I had to see Graceland this trip.
As a child, I had spent many an after-school afternoon watching Elvis movies on television in Chicago.
Anyone else remember those days of afternoon movies from 3-5?
Elvis week was always well promoted and I'd talk with the other girls about moms who watched with us. I'd seen some of his specials on TV in the 70's and occasionally heard him on the radio. He was a little before my time, but I still knew who he was - that he had a daughter- that he met the president. His wild jumpsuits, his peanut butter and banana sandwiches, his group of friends ( it was a new concept back then) all were part of the culture of growing up in my part of the south side of Chicago.
Then he died.
He died rather young, with a little girl and I would guess a broken heart after his divorce. The sadness for a lot of our mothers was a visible, tangible thing.
The only time I have felt anything like it was at the death of John Lennon. I'll never forget the sight of one home's picture window on my bus route for school. It was a velvet Elvis, oversized, with a large candle always lit. It stayed that way for over a year. I don't know who lived in that house - but everyone knew who lived at Graceland.
My father, an aviation buff even knew of Elvis's planes and pilots.
When Graceland opened to the public, a seed was planted in my brain. The house was more than just a spot where he lived. It was the center of his universe, his family, his work. It had become a sort of continuing representation of his talent, his soul if you will. I became immensely curious to see it.
Photographs and mentions only fueled my curiosity. It sat and simmered until my first brush with Memphis - in 1988 I was driving north with my husband and son after finishing our active military duties in Texas. I wanted to stop, not sure what he'd think about my desire to see the Jungle Room for myself. We kept going.
The route for this trip was a happy accident of the route on my IPhone - I noted that to add Chicago as the first stop - took us through Memphis.
I was going to see Graceland for myself.
Or Else!

1 comment:

Ingrid said...

I do remember the after school movies on Channel 7. The beach movies were my favorite. Im glad you finally got to see Graceland!