So … there we were … my sister and I planning a trip with mom – a week in Branson, MO. I’d worked on this outing for months and very much looked forward to it. I had the show tickets, the car reservation, the maps, the hotel info; every possible detail tucked into a tabbed binder organized day by day. I know what you’re thinking but that’s just how I roll.
I decided to try to use air miles to fly from my home in Grand Rapids, MI to Springfield, MO (Branson is located about an hour south). Anyone who has ever flown this way knows to expect the “milk run” (connections, layovers, delays and more connections.) To my delight, a route came up that would have me stop over in Memphis, TN. A sly grin crossed my face as I realized that I would have just over 2 hours on the ground. In Memphis. Home of Elvis A. Presley. A quick Google search told me that “Graceland” stands about 6 miles from the Memphis airport. And, just like that, a plan was hatched.
Landing in Memphis on the first day of Elvis week, 2007, (and the 30th year since his passing), I pushed through the crowd, stepped into that sweltering Delta heat and hailed a cab to Graceland. Me! A Saskatchewan farm kid who grew up watching (drooling over) Elvis do his thing in movies and TV specials. Elvis was my first crush and, to this day, I still carry a torch. Not apologizing.
Milling around the gates and grounds of Graceland, rubbing shoulders with thousands of fans from such far away places as Australia, Lithuania, Italy and Germany, I felt a kinship like I’d never before experienced. I pinched myself to make sure that this was really real. This was a bigger dream than I’d ever dreamed for myself.
Oh Lord, it was hot. It was humid. People cried. I might have cried a little, too. Suddenly, it became clear what I needed to do – the only thing that made all the sense in the world – I dialed my very best friend, my cousin up in Edmonton, Canada and kept her on the phone with me as I went through the tour. (one time I was darn glad for a cell phone!) We “went” through it together. We laughed. We sighed. We oohed and we ahhed. We remembered all those nights together … years ago… singing along with “The King,” swooning at his gorgeous face, being charmed by his boyish mannerisms and wishing, just once, we could have seen him perform. She and I were together at horse camp when we heard the awful news that sad August day. Oh how we cried the day he died, and the days that followed, too.
To this day, when I’m happy, I reach for uptempo Elvis classics like “Burning Love,” “Guitar Man,” “Return to Sender” or “Little Sister.” When I’m sad or just need to think, I turn to his gospel greats including, “How Great Thou Art,” “Where could I go but to the Lord,” and “Amazing Grace.” And when I want to just get my groove on I crank up “A little less conversation,” “Rubbernecking” and “Jailhouse Rock.” Elvis always delivers and never disappoints.
I’ve traveled a fair amount and definitely had my time in plane purgatory – dashed across a snowy Denver tarmac in sandals on my way back from Mexico, spent nights in airports, been bored waiting endlessly to taxi and spent what seems like weeks in customs.
And this? This was simply the best layover ever. (and our Branson trip was great, too!)
Rock on Elvis fans! It’s Elvis Week!
He is always on my mind ..and forever on my playlist… and fans reading this will completely understand.