“Put on my
blue suede shoes,
and I boarded the plane.
in the land of
the Delta blues,
in the middle of
the pouring rain…”
— Marc Cohn
My phone buzzes, twice. It’s a text from the bestie:
She’s no doubt in disbelief that she didn’t get an update immediately after Mr. Gray Area and I said our goodbyes, mere hours before. I’m sure she halfway fears I’m dead or being held somewhere against my will, since one of my last communications was a picture of his vintage van in a desert locale…
(Note: this is a vehicle intended for hauling art and equipment long distances—but also ideal for hiding the occasional victim, if necessary. Frankly, I kinda dig it. But then, I have a penchant for road trips, and vintage vehicles, and…”Forensic Files.”)
But I digress.
“I’m on set, Honey,” I quickly respond, attempting to deflect. And it’s true: I’m on approximately shot number 40 out of the 240 I’ll model before hightailing it back to the airport, lest I forget that despite dubbing it “The Get-to-Know-You Getaway,” my reason for coming to Memphis wasn’t entirely romantic in nature. I got work to do (shoutout to the Isley Brothers).
“I know,” she replies. Of course she knows; we’re besties. “Wanted thumbs up or no.”
I hesitate. I mean, is it that simple? Has my entire love life been reduced to a series of thumbs-up or down? I decide to be diplomatic…and coy:
“Can’t really say. It was a nice time.”
It was. Despite the downpours that plagued our brief stay, Memphis proved to be lovely, vibrant, and full of both history and potential. And yes…it was romantic.
But here’s the funny thing about being a blogger—or a customarily forthcoming person, in general: The expectation is that you’re always an open book, because typically, you always have been. Since I’m better known for wearing my heart on my sleeve than playing it close to the vest, in the days that followed, I’d field easily a half-dozen or more messages and pointed questions from the crew, all wondering the same thing:
Was Mr. Gray Area a “go”?
I’m afraid my carefully measured responses left something to be desired; namely, my usually irrepressible enthusiasm. In the course of a few short days, the babbling brook had become still water. Something must be amiss.
I can see how my reserve might have been disconcerting, to say the least. And I get it: everyone was excited for me. Hell, I was excited for me. Memphis was was an adventure; another opportunity to lean in and do something I don’t usually do. After all, I’d made it public knowledge myself, right here, only a week ago.
So. Why the sudden secrecy?
Well, here’s the funny thing about being over 40—at least for me: in the absence of the everyday magic of my slightly younger, more spontaneous years, I’m finding myself increasingly (perhaps ironically, given that I’m writing about it) protective of my experiences; particularly the ones I’m not ready to put a label on quite yet.
The truth is, I spent less than 48 hours in Memphis with Mr. Gray Area—making our third (?) date both unusually long, and all too brief. Stakes was high (shoutout to De La), even if my expectations remained reasonably low. But as much as I wanted to be present during our time together, I also needed time to process, once we’d parted. And let’s face it: as deeply as I love them, my friends—like my family—are frequently the noise in my head. (Pretty sure I’m part of the noise in theirs, too.)
It’s now been a week since we said goodbye. Ample time to retreat to our corners, reflect on the time spent, and consider whether we want to continue, as an early Tinder date once suggested. (Fun fact: Despite mutually expressing the affirmative, I never saw that guy again…*shrug*)
So, how do you spend (almost) two days in Memphis, you ask? Well, sorry to disappoint you, but we opted to skip Graceland. But seriously: As I said, it was rainy and romantic. It was also somehow refreshing real.
Frankly, there were as many awkward silences as affectionate moments. We drank beers and bourbon and sloppily ate burgers and barbeque with minimal embarrassment. We abandoned any firm itinerary—a challenge, at times—and wandered at will. We talked sh*t. We became both better acquainted, and better friends. We weren’t honeymooners, just two attractive explorers on a brief adventure together, with plenty of ground still left to cover, should we decide to take things further.
Most importantly, for the first time in a long time, it was neither the future nor the past that had my attention; even as we spent hours immersed in history at the National Civil Rights Museum.
I was present—which is all I wanted to be, aside from with him.
But in case you’re looking for something more definitive: For the time being, our area remains as gray as the skies over Memphis last week. Oddly, I’m uncharacteristically okay with that, at least for now. And no, I’m not playing it cool (I’m not, and will never be that cool). I think I’m just…playing it present. Which is progress. So, thumbs up to that.
I will say this: Can’t wait to see him tonight.