An Ode to Memphis

Memphis. The sweet city that taught me more than I could ever imagine. The city that challenged me and pushed me. The city that tested me and forced me to grow. The city that gave me friends that will stand next to me at my wedding, be aunties to my kids and are always there when I need them. The city that showed me a different way of life and forced me to leave my comfort zone. To you Memphis, I say thank you.

From your spunky culture to your relentless citizens, I feel so thankful to be able to say I was a Memphian, even if it was for a short period of time. It is a special thing to visit a place or live in a place where people have more passion for their city than you thought possible. So many people count Memphis out, they talk about the crime there or the poverty, but they forget a few things.

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They forget the good things about the city. They forget about the musical history of the city. They forget the greats like Elvis, B.B. King, Johnny Cash, Otis Redding and Jerry Lee Lewis once called Memphis home. They forget that infamous million dollar quartet photo was taken just five minutes from my old apartment. And maybe, just maybe, they don’t realize or don’t know about all of the other things that make Memphis what it is.

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They don’t realize there is live music around every corner. They don’t know about barbeque nachos or snow cones WITH soft serve in them. They have never run along the Mississippi or kayaked through a swamp-like river. They have never had a gooey cookie from Whimsy or mac-n-cheese from Lafayette’s. They’ve never experienced Beale Street in the middle of the summer. They have never been to a sold out Grizz game in the middle of the week. They’ve never been to a Bass Pro Shop that is located in a giant pyramid.

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Memphis is so much more than most people realize. And for me, what the city had to offer wasn’t what made my time there so memorable. It was the people, the people that became my family. It was the lessons, the countless life lessons that I am still so thankful for.

I made two of my very best friends in that sweet city. If you had told me when I moved to Memphis that I would end up being so close to a chick from North Carolina and another one from Hawaii, I would have thought you were crazy. But these are friendships that weren’t made out of the convenience of sitting next to each other in class or going through rush together, but real adult friendships. Friendships where we talked about our lives, our futures, our struggles, our hopes, our disappointments. Friendships that were mature, where it was okay if we didn’t always agree on every little thing. I am thankful that even now after we have all moved on to new things, that I can still count on these two.

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Living in Memphis, 2,000+ miles from all of my family and friends, was hard. At times it sucked. At times I hated it. I would be so homesick, it would make my cry (and I am not a crier, so that’s a big deal). All I would want was to be sitting at my mom’s kitchen table while she cooked some random new recipe that turned out to be amazing. Or I would want to be in LA with all of my college friends while they got to go wine tasting or to some fabulous beach-front bar. These times were the loneliest. The times when I sat at home alone on a Friday night because I hadn’t made friends yet. The times when I wanted to try a new restaurant, but didn’t have anyone to go with. There were times the culture shock was so bad, I wouldn’t know how to react to a situation.

But out of all of this came so much growth that I am still discovering the extent of.  I learned how to safely travel alone. I learned how to not be embarrassed by eating a meal by myself at a restaurant. I learned how to hang curtains and put together furniture by myself (not recommended, but it is possible). I learned how to make and stick to a budget. I learned how to put myself out there and be okay with being alone.

And more than anything, I learned how to like myself and be okay with being alone. At the end of the day, the person we spend the most time with is ourselves. I’m not saying that there was ever self-loathing going on, but I am hard on myself. I pick at my own imperfections, and make myself feel bad for them. Over the past couple of years, I have spent a lot of time alone and therefore had a lot of time to think about those pesky imperfections. Am I over all of them? Absolutely not, but I’m working on it. I learned to be a little easier on myself. When I started giving myself the grace that I give others, I started to see a change. I am still far from perfect, but I am pretty okay with that. And my time living in Memphis, my two years or learning to be alone, brought me to that point.

So here’s to a city that changed my life. I’ll never forget ya Memphis. I’m sure I’ll be back to visit at some point, but for now I’m ready for this new adventure. Until next time friends… CMB

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