A quest to make sense of it all. Or a sense to make a quest of it all.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Give me flowers, because I dress appropriately.

(Spooky house on Pontotoc)

My vacation ends tonight. It's been wonderful; I've accomplished next to nothing over the past seven days. I've read a lot, written some, and worried little. Most of my time was spent in the front porch swing, absorbing sunshine and reading whatever caught my fancy at the time. I stayed up late, slept in late (well, late for me, a natural 7 a.m. riser). I spent very little time on the internet. At first, the decision to sort of digital-detox had me feeling a little anxious; what would I miss? I found the answer to that pretty quickly: not much. I slipped into relaxation easily, and stayed there. It proved to be very good for me. Not only was I more mellow than I've been in some time, all that stillness and quiet led to some big revelations about things that had been gnawing at me. Some old hurts were finally laid to rest, and some questions that had been nagging me just sort of answered themselves. Usually I travel during my vacations, and while I have a great time doing that, I always get home tired and not ready to go back to work. I go back to work tomorrow morning, and I'm looking forward to it. I feel refreshed and energized from my time off, and appreciative of the structure that shapes my working days: I rise at this time, I make my bed, I eat yogurt and berries, for this number of hours I work, I come home and wash off my makeup, I do some tidying, I eat, I talk to/spend time with my friends, I read, I go to bed. Structure is good.

The only out-of-the-ordinary thing I did this weekend was on my birthday. Engineer 2.0 and I hit the road Saturday afternoon and headed for Memphis. We arrived on the corner of 2nd and Beale just in time for a two-hour walking tour about Memphis history and its ghosts. The plan was to do the tour, then go to Ernestine & Hazel's, a former brothel that is now a bar/restaurant reputedly haunted by soiled doves of yesteryear. The tour was a lot of fun. I learned a few things about Memphis that I didn't previously know, and saw a couple of places that I would file under "Creepy, Legitimately". (Also a couple I would file under "Creepy, Kinda, If You're A Toddler.") I was a little disappointed that the tour didn't give more actual history, since, as anyone who's at all familiar with the basics of Memphis's past knows, it is pretty disturbing on its own. The tunnels under downtown weren't mentioned, nor were the mass graves for yellow fever victims. The Gayoso House and the popular steakhouse that was once used for storing the bodies of said yellow fever victims until they could be buried, weren't brought up. It was all very enjoyable, though. The tour finished up at Ernestine & Hazel's, which was unfortunately closed for a private party. The owners were very cool, however, and let us come in through a side entrance to go upstairs and poke around up there. It's kinda hard to get riled about the supernatural while you're with a group of people and joshing around with your companion, but there's definitely something spooky going on in that place. I can't wait to go back on a regular night and go back upstairs for a longer look. The place hasn't been renovated, but is still up to code. Meaning, watch your step and don't do jumping jacks up there. It's still sectioned off into the little rooms where the ladies once plied their trade, and it's very easy to stand there and imagine it as it once was. I don't think that kind of establishment can operate as long as that one did without some freaky energy settling into the wood. I look forward to returning, and maybe next time I'll be able to get my mouth on one of the Soul Burgers I've heard so much about. As touristy as Memphis can be, it says a lot that the locals like to hang out there.

After the tour, we caught the trolley back to Beale and settled into one of the nondescript bbq restaurants there for a late dinner, then lazily meandered up and down the street, merrily chatting and people-watching. It's always quite a show down there. We sat in Handy Park and talked awhile, and then an older gentleman who was selling roses approached us and gave Brett two of them to give to me. He said, "You have to give these to your wife, I can't give them to her, you need to. She's calm, and she's dressed appropriately. Give her these flowers!" We laughed and I blushed and tried to correct his mistake, but he was already walking away. So Brett handed me the flowers and thanked me for dressing appropriately, and for being so calm. We were still giggling about it when we were approached by another gentleman, who told us that for five dollars, he could tell us how many children our daddies had had. This gentleman was considerably deep in his cups, so we declined the offer and moved on. It was pretty late by then, so we moseyed back to the fairly-swanky Courtyard-Marriott, stopping for a few minutes at the fountain in Court Square. The only other people there were two young folks pawing at each other on a bench. Other than that, it was completely deserted and still, silent except for the night birds chirping. This is the Memphis I love, sultry and historic and beautiful. When you catch her in her quiet moments, its impossible not to fall in love with her.

It was a lovely cap to a wonderful week. Now I'm getting my laundry done, looking over my planner for the next week's events, and watching the days fill in with obligations and appointments. I'm ready to go back to work.

And am I happy? Oh, yes.

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