Sunday, December 23, 2012

Things I Never Want to Do Again: Move to Memphis

Downtown Memphis on my commute from work in 2005. I loved the trolley except for one bastard driver.
With Christmas just days away now, people at work (co-workers and clients) have been asking me whether or not I'm going back home for the holiday. My answer this year is NO. Mainly, it's because a plane ticket for me and my husband would cost about a thousand dollars. Money aside, the places I once loved in Memphis are almost all gone. The places that are still there have been renovated/deteriorated past recognition, and visiting sometimes makes me sadder than staying away.

I've only been away for eight and a half years (when my famous botched Canadian adventure started). The newer places are still there (the Wolfchase Galleria, for example -- though reports* tell me it sucks now).

*my Mom

So while I've got a few days off work and everyone's got me thinking I should be going home for Christmas (even though my mom, dad, and sister will all be in separate places, and visiting my old house by myself would be depressing), I'll go ahead and think about the places I liked that might not even be there anymore.

Looking at websites like these don't help either.

In alphabetic order:

Bellevue Baptist Church
status: still operating
We lived practically on this church's campus (as in my house was located there). Even before we got that house, Bellevue has always been a part of my extended family. The biggest event of the year was the Singing Christmas Tree -- which is provided in full on YouTube this year. (Ironically, the play is set in NYC this time -- and for some reason, embedding the video is not working out.)

Whenever my family would go to an event like this (either at Christmas or Easter or the Fourth of July), Pastor Rogers (now deceased), would recite the same invitation to salvation right before the conclusion of the show, so that I can still quote nearly the whole thing even now. ("... Jesus... you died to save me ... and you promised to save me if I would trust you. ... I do trust you, Jesus. ... Did you tell 'im that?")
I could see these crosses from my bedroom window
This was also the church where my cousin's funeral was held 2 years ago (which was the last time I was in Memphis).

Botanic Garden
status: still operating
Still makes me want a Japanese garden.


Brooks Museum of Art
status: still operating
Back when all I had was retail and clerical experience, I applied for a job here doing "anything". They never got back to me.
Light of the Incarnation by  Carl Gutherz -- my favorite in the permanent collection
Davis Kidd Booksellers
status: out of business
In my lifetime, this store had 3 locations, all basically around the same intersection. This was definitely the place I remember most with my dad (who is an avid bookworm, to say the least). I started out in the kids' section paying attention to the toys and coloring books, then moved to young adult, where I got hooked on Nancy Drew, then on to the Star Trek: The Next Generation novels (yes, really). I bought novels, nonfiction, magazines, books on writing, and imagined my own writing on the shelves.

Dixon Gallery and Gardens
status: still operating
One of my best friends still works here, actually. So maybe I would like to go back and visit her.

Libertyland
status: demolished

Remember Libertyland

Lowenstein Building
status: refurbished
When I was growing up, I loved this building. It was old, abandoned, and wholly captivating. The Memphis Flyer listed it as one of the eyesores of the city. Now you can rent a nice, modern apartment in that building.
Very before

How I remember it - empty.
Source: flickr.com via Melanie on Pinterest

After

The Mall of Memphis
status: demolished
After a nickname like "The Mall of Murder", no one really expected it not to get torn down, right? Still, I had some great times with my family here. All four of us would go together just to get out of the house, or to buy Christmas presents. The ice skating rink made me want to be an olympic skater (never happened).
Remembering the Mall of Memphis

Peabody Place
status: barely operating
This place used to have a fantastic movie theater and Tower Records (which doesn't exist anywhere anymore). Now pretty much all that's left is Victoria's Secret, some restaurants, and office space.

The Pink Palace
status: still operating
My favorite part of the museum was the history section on the second floor, where you could tour a creepy-cool replica of a Piggly Wiggly from 1916.

The Pyramid
status: abandoned/refurbished (becoming a Bass Pro Shop -- disappointing)
I still remember going to see the Titanic exhibit here before watching the movie. Everyone in the group was saying how they were crying while looking at the pieces, but I didn't feel anything. Then I saw the movie about 10 times in the theater and cried every time. Would have appreciated the exhibit more afterward is all I'm saying.
I did see a very cool Ancient Egypt exhibit there (which was probably the most fitting thing to ever happen in that building) that I loved then and would go see again any time.
the sun glinting off the shiny surface blinded many a driver headed in or out of town
The Ugly Mug
status: online only
This used to be a cafe in midtown Memphis (across the street from the Blockbuster Music and Bookstar, which are both gone) where I'd hang out every possible minute. It was started by some people from First Evangelical Church, and quickly became the place to be for the youth group (of which I was a steady fixture). Didn't matter what day or time I went to the cafe, I'd run into someone I knew if I stayed long enough. The coffee was delicious (I abandoned Starbucks altogether), and I felt like I was part of something -- like I belonged. That feeling didn't come around often when I was a teen.
_________
As long as any part of my family still lives here, I'll visit every now and then. I've never seen Graceland (except one time when I got lost driving and happened by it), and everyone tells me I "have to go". Memphis International Airport is becoming a nice, respectable place, unlike how it used to look when my mom would take me to pick up my Gramma (brown bricks, the occasional newsstand, that is all). I'm not at all ashamed of where I've come from. I've got some fond memories, but expecting things to stay the same just isn't realistic.

Though I tell everyone that Memphis is boring and crime-y, I've even missed posting about a few places that I would love to revisit (like the zoo, Overton Square, Theatre Memphis, etc). However, the time in my life when I could have moved back and been happy has gone.

Home for Christmas or not (technically, NY is my home now, so I'm home), with work break in full swing, I can officially start enjoying the holiday. Merry Christmas, you guys!

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