12 April 2007

3 i'm leaving town, baby, i'm leaving town for sure

an extremely tedious exercise in writing about my homeland,
which commenced in april 2006 and still doesn't say what i want to say
but i am sick of trying to say it, so for what it's worth, here it is-
a lot of half-assed words really saying not much of anything at all about memphis.

during maph, a girl in one of my editing groups got to bitching about the south. she used the term "backward." she was talking about alexandria, virginia. i wanted to slap her and say, honey, you'd think mississippi was the third world, but the tall guy who never turned in his work quickly lept in to defend the charms of louisiana (because, y'know, the swamps) and the conversation turned elsewhere.

that happened three years ago and i've not forgot. maybe i never will. maybe because i kind of sort of think it's true- an admission that is akin to standing amidst the daughters of the confederacy and bursting into a rousing chorus of "while we were marching through georgia."

maybe this is the curse of the southern immigrant- one must endlessly defend the south while also harboring an extreme awareness of its inadequacies.

i adore memphis. at least i always did and even though i ran from it, i think i kind of still do. it's my homeland, but not my home. and that's a really bizarre thing.

i can't begin to explain this city to people. it's a politically incorrect, charismatic, strangely generous guy with a raunchy sense of humor and mismatched socks. you want to introduce him to your other friends, but you're pretty sure the minute he opened his mouth, they'd know he's bad news. aristotle onassis, but without the business sense or the millions- just the barstools. that's not an explanation though. it's just a string of faulty metaphors.

to me, memphis is the most restless of cities. there's a rhythm to the streets- as though the current of the river were shaking the bluffs and elvis was just humming along. while i've always loved this quality, it's like dating someone who's entirely too like you, so you just wind up driving each other mad. memphis and i are too similar. we're too tightly wound. and that makes me want to run.

and yet there are these moments and there's that river.

i called croftie once in the middle of a memphis moment, blubbering that i was driving down beale with the river ahead. i probably sounded drunk. because that means nothing to you if you're not from memphis. if you are from memphis, it means the world.

because in the end, it all comes down to music and muddy water.


Unknown said...

amen, he said softly. amen

oline said...

in the end, it probably also comes down to the duck palace, but i value the pithy concluding one-liner too much to toss them in there.

Les Savy Ferd said...

that is some pretty fine prose Oline. I had a joke or two about Indiana and its resemblance to the swamps of louisiana but I think I'll pass. You make me homesick for the city *I* ran from, a city which couldn't be more different than Memphis, but one I feel a connection to thats as deep as yours.