It’s here. My last day as a Memphian. I’ve been writing this post days before I even knew I was officially leaving because I wanted my Memphis eulogy to be perfect. After a couple weeks of jotting down stuff, it finally struck me that it’s Memphis. It doesn’t have to be perfect. Even when the South wants it to become a member of this or that socially elitist Southernist tribe, Memphis usually laughs and messes it up one way or another and just never quite makes it into the club. I mean this city has a glorified space alien running for mayor for God sakes. Back when I had just moved to Memphis, I went to a work conference in Indianapolis where I met some women from eastern TN. Taking pride in my new city I boldly declared my love of Memphis. To my naivety, my excitement was promptly met with their thick drawls of, “I wish we could just give that city to Arkansas.” I smiled. Because it made me love Memphis even more. Those ladies obviously don’t know what they’re missing.
Four and a half years ago my friend Katie and I drove across the Hernando De Soto Bridge into the Memphis skyline for an interview that would change my life. I remember saying out loud into the darkness of that night, “I could live here.” Little did I know then that the next years would hold some of the best, and most challenging, of my life’s moments thus far. I moved to Memphis a girl and I am leaving here a woman.
My years in Memphis have held so much heartfelt joy and hope, along with hard work and heartbreak. I could not have survived this journey and this magical city without my Memphis “family”. The friends I made here have consistently, for years, laughed with me, cried with me, dreamt with me, and have literally picked me up and dusted me off. I have so many happy memories of this city, but these people make this community, so much that it literally hurts my heart to leave them. These friends, and my coworkers who turned into great friends along the way, are some of the most sincerely nice and hardworking people I will ever know.
I have been humbled so much by what Memphis has taught me. I’ve been able to work at two amazing non-profits. I’ve meet leaders like D’Army Bailey, Brene Brown, leading cancer doctors, and a lot of other people that dedicate themselves to making Memphis a better place. And who all deserve more credit.
I’ve been able to sit on boards, teams, and do professional development that I would never have received elsewhere. I’ve worked alongside a diverse group of people and made a friend group of mostly Memphis transplants, but everyone here still has one thing in common: grit. And I hope I will never, ever lose that grit-n-grind spirit. (Once a Grizzlies season ticket holder, always a Grizzly. I love you, Tony Allen!)
My Memphis experiences have taught me immeasurable lessons about service to others and doing what is right even if no one else is doing it. I became an adult in Memphis. (For the most party) Because in Memphis it feels like part of you could possibly be a kid here forever.
Memphis is a city of extremes. It’s very easy to eat too much here. Drink too much. Stay out way too late too many times. And I’ve done my share. I’ve had too many Sunday fundays; I’ve eaten too many soul burgers; Also too many Dyer’s burgers; I’ve consumed way too many wings covered in ranch dressing; I’ve swam in questionable water too many times (looking at you Mud Island, our rooftop hottub, and the Mississippi River); I’ve made a fool of myself dancing too many times on Beale Street; I’ve frustrated our doorman one too many times (my bad, Alex); I’ve worn too many bad cat/Christmas tree/reindeer/nerdy snow white costumes to count; I’ve invited over too many house guests for dance parties and not asked my roommate; I’ve had too many brews at the zoo; I’ve conned people into letting me into Raiford’s VIP too many times; I’ve signed up someone against their will for a meatball eating contest (sorry Randall); I’ve embarrassed my mom by drinking a Big Ass beer on national television in Memphis; I’ve taken too many carriage rides at questionable hours; I’ve done too many Jell-O shots off of fine china at Ole Miss games (if it’s plated on silver it doesn’t count in Mississippi); I’ve shared a car with a keg more than I ever thought; I’ve cried too much; I’ve ordered “cheese dip for two” for one at Molly’s too many times; I’ve told too many strangers random Memphis facts they didn’t want to hear too many times; I’ve stayed in old Nate’s bar until the close of Ernestine and Hazel’s more than necessary; I’ve ordered too many late night poo poo platters (I love you Bardog); I’ve done too many leg guitars; I’ve had enough BBQ nachos to deserve the nickname nacho; I’ve watched my roommate buy drinks for Robert Pera; I’ve done too many 5Ks dehydrated; I’ve had too many fake tattoos and weird face paintings; I’ve sang “Woop That Trick” and “All I Do Is Win” at the top of my lungs too many times; I’ve made Uber drivers take us to the Memphis Yacht Club at questionable hours; and I could probably keep going… but the thing is Memphis knows how to have a good time. And that’s what makes it Memphis.
My neighborhood bartenders know my name and I like that. Beale Street still makes me feel like a giddy college student when I walk down it. I love that I’ve been living a couple of blocks away from where an Elvis single was first played over the radio, and that I got to sign a petition to save that building which reopens next month. Literally, rock-n-roll was BORN here in Memphis. This city has changed the world. Memphis has amazing food. I’ve seen too many amazing concerts here to count. I ran a marathon here. I went to my first crawfish festival here. I’ve been to galas and fundraisers and surprise parties that were out of this world here. I’ve thrown who knows how many events for precious patients and their families, and I coordinated the most amazing wedding here. I’ve loved every sunset I’ve seen over that Mississippi River. I’ve sat courtside at Grizzlies games and I’ve been invited into too many nice peoples’ box suites. And through all of these crazy things, I have made the BEST darn friends here that I will cherish all my life.
But in all seriousness, my time in Memphis has also given me those important moments where I had to believe in myself, own my mistakes, and make sure I was a better person coming out the other side. And I am. And I’m excited for my next chapter while keeping those Memphis ideals and friendships forever. Kansas City, here I am and I’m coming for ya. 1st Team All Defense!