The need for a change of scene arose a couple of weeks ago. I became road weary. My engagement with life in my motorhome was waning. I struggled with the feelings. I din’t want to be a quitter. But when sustained personal engagement ebbs, it’s time for a change. For some, fulfillment is the American dream of earning a handsome income, procuring assets, and looking good to the outside world. For me, success is engagement.
I was asked yesterday if I enjoyed my five months on the road. I don’t enjoy driving long distances by myself in a 5 ton gas guzzling behemoth. I enjoyed the places I went, the friends with whom I spent time, and being outdoors. The capstone of the last five months was getting to know myself better. The bittersweet part has been been heightened awareness that life is spontaneously combustible. Enjoyment isn’t a constant. Ups and downs are part of the rhythm.
While living in Nashville, singer songwriter John Hiatt wrote “Memphis In the Meantime” in 1987. It is about changing locations and getting a new outlook on life. He sings of weariness of the Nashville scene and its music style. He said, “Cause one more heartfelt steel guitar chord, girl it’s gonna do me in. I need to hear some more trumpet and saxaphone, you know sound as sweet as sin.” Horns are Memphis music’s counterpart to Nashville’s steel guitar. Hiatt needed a change of pace. I know the feeling.
I returned to Memphis a couple of weeks ago. I purchased a car, and I leased a downtown condo for a six month term. I’m surprised to find myself back in my home town. Six months ago I needed to get out of here. Now I need to have my feet on the ground…right here.
I’m enjoying the rhythm of more space, a kitchen where maneuvering is unrestricted, a shower without a six gallon hot water limit, and a washing machine and dryer in my home.
Hiatt says, “After we get good and greasy, baby we can go back home.” How long will my stint in Memphis last? ‘Til I get good and greasy.
Hello. This is Jimmy Lewis. I'm in Memphis, Tennessee. My golden doodle, Lola and I are leaving on a North American tour in May, 2021. We'll be traveling in a 2021 Jayco Melbourne 24L motorhome. We have neither time constraints nor exact destination specifications.
We'll spend May in Virginia, North and South Carolina, and then head north through New York, Maryland, Massachusetts and Vermont. If Canadians resume the practice of putting out a welcome mat for Americans, then we'll cross the border.
The seed for this journey began after my wife, Sarla passed away in May, 2020. Sarla was a yogi. An early yoga teacher of hers implored her to "Have what you need, and use what you have." As I prepare to close on the sale of our home on April 30, 2021, I'm deciding what I need based on the likelihood of using what I have. I give some things away without a flicker of feeling. When more meaningful items like the piano I inherited from my parents leave the premises, I feel like I'm saying goodbye to an old friend for the last time.
Sarla's death lessened my attachment to the home we had enjoyed for 15 years and life as I knew it. I didn't need and couldn't possibly use a house that could satisfy the needs of a family with four children. I'll no longer experience residence, a concept identified with staying in a specified place, as I've heretofore known it. Life will never be the same, nor do I want to attempt to shape my future into a likeness of what I once knew.
I've set my sights on adventure. I want to be challenged by not knowing who or what I'll meet on the road. The outdoors is one of my default antidotes for stress. Other than my rig, I won't have an indoors base. Whereas others might opt to downsize so that they have the stability of a landing spot, I won't be able to go "home" as I've known it. I'm jazzed about the prospect of being at the whim of the muse, to go where my finger lands on turning pages of the Rand McNally atlas.
My dog, Lola is indifferent even though I've been talking to her about the journey every day. She looks quizzically at me when I enthusiastically say we're hitting the road together. I'm confident that she'll do well. We've previously driven together to and from a destination 12 hours from home. She curiously gazed out the window and occasionally snoozed in the passenger seat. She didn't express displeasure about the podcasts and music selection that I chose to entertain and inform me while driving.
This trip isn't driven by personal goals. Will I learn more about myself? Will I take advantage of the opportunity to reflect? Will I be lonely? Will I be uneasy? I'm motivated by a curiosity to follow the questions.
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7 thoughts on “Memphis In The Meantime”
Good to know you’re around town!
‘Life is what happens while you’re making your plane.’
You can go/come home again.
As you have changed, so has home.
Here’s to gettin’ good and greasy!
I somehow feel more settled, knowing you’re in Memphis James. Gives us impetus to plan a trip back to our other home – warts and all.