Monday, May 16, 2011

Walking in Millington

   Welcome back for the third and final installment of my Memphis trip post. After finally shedding a few tears at my father's passing I decided to drive to my old neighborhood and get a look at how things had changed. Now the small town of Millington basically only sprang into being because of the Naval Air Station. This was closed in 1996 well before I left the area. Everyone feared that this would mark the end of the town as that had been the case with so many Military towns across the country after their bases had closed. I am pleased to report that today in 2011 the city is bigger and stronger than ever. It was strange seeing how big my sleepy little hometown had gotten. The biggest shock was the Starbucks and IHOP that are now in town. I failed to get pictures of this part of town, probably due to the great shock I was experiencing. The towns main drag is Navy road. Aptly named as it began life as a Navy town. Navy Road intersects US-51 and this is where I snapped my first picture.

   Behind this street off camera to the right is the small tri-street area where I lived as a small child from about 7 to 12 years old. We lived directly behind the Pizza Hut. Which may be why pizza is my favorite food to this day.

   The shed in the back yard is new and there used to be a big hedgerow around the entire front yard. Other than that it looks about the same. 7950 Susan Millington, TN 38053 I spent almost my entire elementary school years at this house. I attended E.A. Harrold Elementary School on what used to be the outskirts of town. Cruising down Navy road from here the biggest changes were the decorative median strips the city added with grass, flowers, and trees to help beautify the city. Also the Donut Factory, a 24 hour restaurant and bakery that used to be THE place to hang out late night is now a bar & grill.

   A bit further down Navy Road is the Fire Department, City Hall, & Police Station. They are in separate buildings but all share the same parking lot.

   Even further down Navy Road, its a really long road, is the Pizza Hut Delivery location I worked at for 3 and a half years. Its now a Jackson Hewitt Tax Service.

   This was oddly depressing but at least the building was still there. Unlike the Golden Corral I had worked at for 3 and a half years right after college which had been bulldozed before I left town. Now the location is a Kroger Gas Station. A bit further down Navy road is a housing subdivision. I lived on the first street of this area called West Navy from when I was about 16 until I was 19 and moved away from home for the first time. 7790 West Navy still exists along with a little over a dozen privately owned homes. The rest of the 7 street subdivision has been bulldozed. There is a YMCA and the park that used to be for the subdivision is still there. Otherwise the whole area looks vacant and creepy.

   Its been painted, it used to be blue with white trim. The rose trellis is gone and the trees are all much bigger. Around the corner from here and back on Navy Road again is the small community market I used to walk to for snacks and such.

   Its also where I bought my first adult periodical. Back in the day we didn't get our porn online we had to get it from magazines and books. I never got carded here but I never tried to buy alcohol either. Just porn which they were always willing to sell provided you had the cash. Further up Navy road is what used to be the Naval Air station.

   Naval Support Activity MidSouth is what it has become. This is basically administrative offices and such. The old airstrip has been turned into a public airport. Back down Navy road towards town and off to the right is Easley Street. This is a block or two from the trailer park I moved into when I moved away from home at 19. It is also where the little bar I drank away a year and a half of my life is at. Followers of my blog may remember that story from my post A River of Sadness .

   I considered stopping in for a quick drink but decided against it. This trip was supposed to be about remembering the good old days and I didn't want to chance being dragged down by bitter old memories. Around the corner and down the road from here is the High School I graduated from. I only attended it for a year and a half because of our relocating but it is my official Alma Matter. Millington Central High School class of 1989 , Go Trojans!

   After seeing the sights of my old hometown I drove back to Mel's house. We played Guitar Hero, and Beatles Rock Band that night. It was the first time I played any of those types of games and I wasn't very good at first. Melody was of course much better. She started drinking as we played and I started to improve. Just about the time our skill levels seemed to be getting close, in spite of the fact that she was two difficulty levels higher than me, she got completely wasted. I mean damn near falling down drunk. Here's where it gets weird because after she was completely knackered her skill level went through the roof. She played better drunk than she had while sober. She continually rubbed it in as well.
   The next day was my birthday. Melody and I went to lunch at Pei Wei and then shopping at Best Buy. It was some of the best Asian food I've ever had. That evening Melody & Mark took me to Applebee's for my birthday dinner. I invited BengalKatLady to come share the evening with us. It was the first date I had been on in years. Everyone had a very good time and Kat told me to call her when I get back to town. She is a very special woman. When we got home Mark, Melody and I recorded a plastercast. The first one I've gotten to do in person with her. Now that she has some free time perhaps it will be on the website soon. Bucket of Mars
   The following day was the last day of my trip. Mark, Melody and I drove around their neighborhood for a bit talking. We went to lunch in Millington at Milano's Italian Restaurant. Which is in the building that used to be Captain D's. This is where I got my first real job, part time during the summer between my junior and senior years. We returned home and I loaded up my car and got ready to return to Missouri. I hugged my dear friend and headed out. The drive home from a trip always seems shorter than the drive away. Far too soon I found myself back in the driveway I started from but with one small change.

   My car, much like my heart is now branded with Tennessee. Thanks so much for stopping by to check out my blog. Take care and have an awesome day!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Why Is The Rum Always Gone?

   Welcome back for part two of my Memphis trip post. After dinner the first night we headed back home by way of the liquor store. I got Bacardi Superior (my liquor of choice) and mixed it with Pepsi One. I have an outfit I call my pirate pajamas, black gauzy comfortable with that swashbuckler look. I put those on and we watched Scott Pilgrim Versus The World and The Princess Bride. Two of our favorites and both great for shouting out quotes during. After about three drinks Mel stopped drinking and just watched me get drunker and drunker. I finished over a fifth of rum on my own (she was drinking tequila shots). I remember getting up to use the restroom halfway through the second movie then coming back and it was over. No headache the next day but I felt like I had rocks in my stomach and a bit queasy the whole day. It had been a long time since I drank that much in one night.
     That day we had to go to the University of Memphis so Melody could get her cap & gown and speak to one of her professors about her future. The new University Center is more like a mall than a college building. It was very impressive and beautifully done. I waited in the bookstore cafe while she went to her appointment enjoying the cute college coeds wandering through. Ahh to be in college again, youth is truly wasted on the young.

   I went out on my own that night to visit with my Aunt Jewell. She is a native Memphian and although she is my favorite Aunt I've never gotten to spend much time with her.

   That's her with her dog Picasso. She lives in the Cooper Young District in a beautiful little house.

    Her backyard looks like a park. It so peaceful and green. We had Tops BBQ for dinner. She knew it was my favorite and one of the things I missed most about Memphis. Best BBQ in the world! We caught up and looked at old family pictures. She kept offering me cocktails but my stomach was still too tore up for that. We had a great time though. I have a crazy family but she is one of the few I actually enjoy spending time with.
   The next day Mark and Melody and I went down to Celtic Crossing in the Cooper Young District for her graduation party. I got to meet Brian Bomar and his wife from Mel & Mark's D&D game. I also got to see Rick another D&Der and his wife. He and I worked at a Computer Tech company in Memphis for awhile before I left. I got to meet two of Melody's gay husbands @WheelerThisWay and @Bugabeesbiscuit . Both great guys but I think I liked @WheelerThisWay a little bit more. Of course I did get to talk to him more so that may be why. Then @Bengalkatlady and her sister @Miss_Cody arrived.

   I had met Kat through Mel on Twitter months ago but this was the first time I had gotten to meet her in person. She is a delightful woman and her pictures on Twitter don't do her justice. She is just the kind of sweet Southern lady I could see myself settling down with. Gotta love those southern gals! Sadly her and her sister didn't get to stay long as they had a prior commitment but meeting her was definitely the highlight of my evening. The service at Celtic Crossing was shite but they were quite busy. Still drinking with friends out in the open air on the patio of an Irish Pub in the cool Southern night air was incredible. Mel made up for her drinking so little a couple of nights earlier so it was my turn to laugh at her antics. A fun time was had by all! To her credit, even in her new high heels, Mel walked unassisted back to the car to spite the uneven & broken sidewalks. Even drunk she can handle her liquor, retaining her class and charm.
   The following day was Melody's graduation. All of the long months of hard work, blood, sweat and tears were finally at an end. Going back to school with a family has got to be a hell of a challenge. There were certainly times that she felt overwhelmed and unable to go on. However Melody had made it to the finish line like I always knew she would. I am so proud of my friend. I know she can do anything she sets her mind to. She received a Bachelor of Science with a Major in Biology and a Minor in Chemistry.

   Again I apologize for the crappy picture but all I had that day was my camera phone. Despite being reminded by a friend on Twitter before hand I managed to walk out of the house without my digital one.

   Melody is in the back row left side 3rd from the right.

   Here she is Mel the Scientist. Look out world this smart woman will be taking over any day now! Graduation over we went home and I got to cook a meal for my chosen family. I made Herb Roasted Chicken Breast, Fettuccine Florentine, and Mozzarella Garlic Bread. It was very well received.

   Even though I've known Mark & Mel for a long time it was the first time I had gotten to cook for them. Cooking for the people I love is my passion. I think I enjoyed cooking it even more than we all enjoyed eating it. The following day Mel and I drove around in my car. We got to see the city and relive old times when we used to hang out together doing nothing in particular. We stopped to visit my grandfather and pay our respects for his service to our country. Goddess bless all our veterans living and dead!

   He served in the Army in World War 2. He was a Memphis taxi driver and a published poet. Sadly he died before I was born. I would have liked to have met him. After that Melody suggested we go to Williams Sonoma for a little shopping. I had never been there but due to my love of cooking had of course heard of it. We shopped for a while and I saw so many things I would have loved to buy. I thought I would get out without making a purchase but there was an item on sale I just couldn't pass up.

   A metal Star Wars lunchbox with classic move poster logo. Complete with two sandwich cutters, a Millennium Falcon and an Imperial Tie Fighter, all for ten bucks. How could a geek like me say no?!? That night Mark suggested we go see THOR. Now I like comic books as much as the next geek but I've never been big on the Marvel stuff. I didn't expect much of this movie but one Mark was excited and two I was spending time with my friends. They could have suggested we go shovel poop at a horse stable and I would have been ok with it just because I would be doing it with them. BOY was I pleasantly surprised. This move ROCKED! It was perfection in motion. I have nothing bad to say of this film in any way. If you are a fan of comic books, or Norse Mythology run do not walk to the theatre to see this film!

   Even the ladies will be pleased with this film. They thought of everything. The following day I went by myself to do the other thing I came to Memphis for. A little over a year ago my father died. He and I had not spoken to each other for over 15 years at the time of his passing (his choice not mine). I felt no emotion good or bad when I got the news and felt no reason to go out of my way to attend his funeral. I could not in good conscience however avoid visiting his grave my first trip back to town. He was laid to rest in West Tennessee State Veteran's Cemetery on March 16th 2010.

   If the tombstone is accurate he reenlisted in the Navy and served in the Persian Gulf some time during the years we did not speak. He became a licensed psychiatric counselor after he retired from the Navy so perhaps he served in this capacity. Even with our bad history and the way he treated my mother and myself during my child hood standing there that day I couldn't help but feel a little proud of him. Rest in peace dad I bare you no ill will.

   Once again I think this is a good place to stop for now. There will be a third and final installment of this post tomorrow. I would like to thank you for stopping by and as always have an awesome day!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Thomas Wolfe Was Full of Shit

   I got back from the best trip of my life two days ago and I just have to share some of my experiences here. Let me start by saying I was born and mostly raised in Memphis Tennessee. We moved around quite a bit while I was a kid as my Dad was in the Navy. However no place else has ever felt as much like home as my dear Memphis. No wonder greats like Elvis, BB King, and Sharon Stone kept homes there throughout there careers and lives. Its a beautiful vibrant area that in spite of all the growth still looks and feels green.
   The evening before my trip I was packed with car loaded and in bed by 11 pm so I could get an early start the next day. I was too excited however and only managed to fall asleep twice for less than 20 minutes at a time. At 4 am I decided I wasn't going to do any better sleep wise so I got up and got ready. After a breakfast of Yorkshire Pudding (one of my new found favorites) I jumped in the car, hit the bank, filled my gas tank and was on the road by 5 am rolling out of town.

   I got to see the sunrise that morning as I drove west on I-70. It was a gorgeous sight. I am sorry I failed to get a pic of it but it was early and I hadn't thought to put my camera in the seat next to me so I could reach it while driving. Safety first kids! The orange and red hues slowly filling the sky over the flat Missouri farmland was like a painting. I traveled on Via I-64 and I-270 through St. Louis. The morning drive radio teams were talking about Cinco De Mayo and they had a call in discussion about whether you'd rather fuck a taco, a burrito or a donkey. "Unless it was a damn sexy female donkey and I was very drunk I'd take the burrito. Unless sexy Democrats count, no probably not." I thought to myself as I drove through the beginnings of rush hour on the outbound side of the city.

   Driving on I-270 turned into I-55 which turned into I-155. 400 miles into my trip time for refueling and liquid waste disposal. I stopped in a small Missouri town called Hayti for gas and Arby's. I thought it was pronounced like the island. I learned however that the locals prefer HAY-TIE. They were remodeling so I got to use a port-a-potty. Granted it was a nice trailer size port-a-potty with sinks stalls and urinals but it still stank. That could have been due to the large African American construction worker that had just exited it though.
   Back on the road the end of Missouri was not far off. There had been extensive flooding so the Mississippi river was way out of its banks. They had suspended barge traffic as far upstream as Cincinnati Ohio.

          This was along the interstate 3 miles out from the bridge.

          This was closer to the bridge which is in the center of the picture. Still almost a mile out.

           This was from the bridge itself.

    These pictures of the Mississippi River were actually taken on the Tennessee side on my return trip but they made more sense to insert here. I apologize for the quality of the pictures by the way. Keep in mind I was driving. So now I was back in Tennessee. I gave a loud YEEHAW to no one in particular as I crossed the state line.

   Immediately I notice that instead of flat farmland lining the interstate there were trees. Ahh trees! I forgot how much I loved seeing your green beauty graces the roadsides. I inhaled deeply taking in the fresh air and the scent of fresh honeysuckle. Oh my sweet southern mistress how I have missed you!

   I-155 turned into TN-78 which quickly turned into US-51. The highway that runs through Millington. The town I lived the most while growing up. From here on I was home. I felt like Kevin Costner in Robin Hood, "East is that way. I would know blindfolded, I'm five miles from home." I tune the radio over to see if I'm in range yet. 102.7 Rock 103 crackles to life over my speakers. I sigh another sigh of happiness.

    Further down US-51 I see some old familiar sights and of course some new ones. I drive and marvel. I smile and well up. Emotions run high but there is no where I'd rather be at this moment. I finally reach the Munford / Atoka area.

   This is where my oldest and best friend Melody lives. She is one of the reasons I've decided to take this trip. Not just because I haven't seen my best friend for 12 years but because she is graduating College. A momentous occasion for sure. Add in my 40th birthday and well if there's a better reason to take a rip I don't know what it could be. I stopped of at Sparky's Exxon for a bathroom break. It worked out that it was on the corner of where I needed to turn off of the highway anyway. I was greeted by an old familiar smell. This gas station always had a lunch counter but now they added a full blown restaurant out back.

   As tempted as I was I decided to be good and wait for dinner later. I had just had lunch a little over an hour ago so this helped steel my will. Now there is nothing wrong with Kansas City BBQ. Their beef brisket is delicious. But when it comes to BBQ there is nothing in the world like a good old fashioned Memphis pulled pork BBQ sandwich. I digress I had driven a long way, 462 miles. It was time to find my friend. I pulled down the road and was reunited with another old friend. Tree tunnels!

   Sometimes when driving down these roads canopied with trees its hard to remember you're driving at all. It makes my pagan heart beat faster being submerged in so much nature. I drive on turning down one suburban street after another. Finally I pulled up in her driveway. She lives in an absolutely gorgeous neighborhood and has a lovely home. Pictures of both have been withheld however out of respect as I did not ask permission before I wrote this.

   I wasn't sure if she was home or not as she had the last of her college finals earlier that day so I texted her asking what time she'd be home. Since I left out early and the trip took less time than I expected I was like 4 hours early. I made the trip including stops in 8 and a half hours. She answered that she was home now and asked where I was. I got out of my car and started up the walk to her door and texted back that I was here. She responded "In my driveway?" instead of answering I rang the doorbell. She opened the door and I was greeted by her lovely smile. I went inside and hugged her tight, so happy to see my friend again. In this world you meet and know a lot of people. You have many acquaintances and friends and family. However there are generally only a small handful of people that you are really close with. Of these there might be one or two you'd do absolutely anything for. Melody is one of those for me. I'd walk through hell for or with her just because I knew she needed me to and I know she'd do the same for me without my having to ask.
   OK sappiness over for now. We sat and talked for a bit and I brought in my stuff. Later she picked up her daughter mustardfreak (approved nickname she uses to refer to her online) from school. I had never met her in person as I hadn't seen Mel or her family in longer than she had been alive. She reminds me so much of her mother but you can see her father Mark in her just as much. We decided to take a drive around the area and head to dinner.

   In the south Jesus seems to be everywhere. Apparently he is even into modern communications and media. Jesus is a satellite dish, smh. We drove on looking at the sights in the town and area around Mel's home. We drove through Covington. They have a lot of pretty sights as well as a town square that looks like it came straight out of a Norman Rockwell painting.

   I found an interesting sight and thought of my British followers on twitter instantly. It seems even in the deep south there are those that wish American was still under British control.

   Its kind of hard to make out but this Memphian is proudly displaying the Union Jack. God save the queen! We talked. Mel tweeted. I came close to shitting my pants on several occasions. She needs to either not tweet and drive or get some kind of futuristic heads up display. Then we stopped for dinner at the Pig N Whistle.

   I had the pulled pork sandwich, fried okra, and french fries. It was good but not the Tops sandwich I had been dreaming of. There was plenty of time though that would come later.

This blog post has grown much larger than I expected so I think I will break it up into segments. Two or possibly three, that way it will be easier to get through for the reader plus it will give me more days to fill. So this is it for today but I'll be back with part two tomorrow. I guarantee it! Thanks for stopping by and have an awesome day!