I don’t remember by Birthday 31.
Not at all.
I lived in Minneapolis that year.
That much I know.
I turned 30 in Memphis, Tennessee.
Home of Graceland and Sun Studios and where Martin Luther King, Jr drew his final breath.
Chris and I drove to Memphis.
We drove through small towns where the blues seeped out of run down homes hidden in woods
That poured out of the cracks in the churches and rampant racism,
not disguised like it is in the North where we liberals pretend
that we’re all one big, happy, family (which most of the time makes it worse).
Waylon Jennings had died the day we got to Memphis.
We had a shot for him at a bar on Beale Street.
We also snuck into the Civil Rights Museum.
Right through the gate.
All that was there was a chain. You could slide right through.
The Lorraine Hotel. We climbed up to the second floor. And stood
Where Dr. King once stood. Before being shot. It was somber
And surreal. And something I will never forget.
It was there that midnight, in all its messiness, the South, civil rights and complicated and complex histories first moved me to 30.
In the morning was the pilgrimage to Graceland, Elvis, and all his glory.
You’ll never compare to Elvis, James Franco.
Jumpsuits, swimming pools, The Jungle Room, planes, cars, bowling alleys and racquetball courts
I could have spent all day wandering the grounds. I’ll never forget those steps I took
Savoring the space and the culture created by his larger than life presence.
He didn’t even need the Internet or Instagram. He just was. And always will be.
Chris liked Sun Studio more. He got to stand in the same spot as
The Beatles and Sam Phillips and BB King and Elvis and all the other masters of blues.
And it was magical.
We had Memphis barbeque. Not in some fancy place, but in some small shack where they told us not to go.
But we went anyway and it was worth it.
Then we drove to Nashville where the street musicians are better than most bands with
You can hear better music on a Tuesday than you can hear on a Saturday in most towns.
I think that night of music ruined me. Or maybe it was just that I had turned 30 and was officially beyond bands and shows and music until 3 in the morning.
But not that night.
I’ve had some bad birthdays too, James Franco.
Clearly the bad ones, the ones that don’t count, fade away.
You let them go.
The good ones you construct upon.
Like 30 in Memphis.