Thursday, June 11, 2009

Road Trip With Mom! Day Three: Memphis, Tennessee

Today was a full day. My head is swimming.

We started this morning by visiting Graceland, home of Elvis Presley - duh. It was pretty amazing. Mom and I had a great time seeing old movie memorabilia, checking out his fantastically flamboyant wardrobe, and posing in front of his car collection. Oh yes, we absolutely did.

He had a fantastic sense of style, in my opinion. Check out his yellow and navy tv room!

Oh, and The Jungle Room!

Lovely tour of his home. Here's mom and I outside the mansion:

Graceland was really fun, but the tour ended with a lot of emotion. In one room at the end, they played his concert from Hawaii. He did a slow version of "Dixie" in which he included part of "Glory, Glory, Hallelujah." A mix of sweat and tears ran down his face as he sang. (As an aside: In a beautiful Elvis Moment, the cameras caught a fan handing him a hankerchief to wipe the moisture from his face. He accepted it gratefully, used it, and handed it back to the fan, who screamed. Lovely). Although I'm no fan of the song "Dixie," or Dixieland itself, I got very caught up in his rendition of the song, as well as in his emotion while performing. What a beautiful man - his ability to reach his audience is incredible and probably stretched further than I can even imagine.

After this room, we went outside to the meditation garden where his family is buried. Seeing his grave, seeing him buried next to his parents and grandmother, along with a plaque made for his twin brother who was stillborn, was incredibly moving. Personally, I have never felt a strong connection to Elvis - his life or his music or anything. Nothing like Marvin Gaye - I cry every time I think of him dying, and I cry most times I hear his music. If I ever visited his grave, I think I'd lose my mind. With Elvis, it's different - he's one of my mom's favorite musicians, he's pretty much the handsomest man in the world, and he led an amazing life. Definitely. But I've never felt emotional about him. Something happened though, standing in front of his grave. Everybody in the area got a little quieter and slowed their pace a bit. I felt slowed down and, at the same time, caught up in the heavy air outside. There was a wave of sadness and beauty and peace and quiet, all at once. There's some powerful energy there; it really seized me for a few moments...

Later in the day, we went to the National Civil Rights Museum, which is located at the Lorraine Motel on Mulberry St. This is the site of where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated. To be standing just 5 feet away from where Dr. King was shot and killed, to imagine the shots being fired and him falling and his life ending on that balcony - it took my breath away. There's an immense sadness in that space, yet an insane surge of a more hopeful energy reflected by a quotation that was posted nearby: You can kill the dreamer, but never the dream.

This wreath hangs outside Room 306 at the Lorraine Motel, where Dr. King was staying.

We also got to read a lot about the history of the civil rights movement. The whole museum made me think about my sister and her coworkers who, by going to work every day in the south, fight harder than I can sometimes ever imagine. To go to your job, your work, your career, your life, and have it be a struggle and an insane uphill battle every single day...And how amazing and humbling to imagine Rosa Parks on the bus, and the people in the Woolworth's lunch counter protests, and what it must have felt like to be doing what they did. And to hear about the non-violent training people carried out: how to not react to people calling you names and harassing you verbally and physically, how to peacefully protest, and, because of what peaceful protesting was met with, how to cover your head when you're being beaten. How to stay alive when people try and hurt you. It is inspiring and sad and amazing and awful, all at once.

After a day like this, it's sort of difficult to decompress and go on and do regular things right away. I definitely felt quiet for the rest of the day. I am so grateful for this down time to write down as much as I can, attempt to sort out the feelings and transform them into words as well as I'm able, and reflect on everything we took in today. And I feel this: I wish for everybody in my life to witness amazing happenings, encounter remarkable individuals, experience life-changing events, be good people, and go through it all with grace and humility.


Tara said...

beautiful. and that last sentence made me cry. love you

syb said...

Reem this is really beautiful. I had a similar reaction at Graceland, as far as getting a little choked up over someone whom I had never really been emotional about before.

And we didn't even pay for the fancy tour that included the cars. :)

Glad you had such a wonderful trip with your mom!

jx said...

beautiful. so glad you experienced this day, reem.

SophisticatedBrew said...

You're writing is making me teary. What a beautiful and emotional day.

SophisticatedBrew said...

On a not-so-serious note, holy cow, Elvis's house was awesome!