Has anyone ever visited Memphis and not had that song stuck in their head all day?
Matt and I went to Memphis this weekend! It was our first weekend away from the kiddo and when we left that morning, I had such mixed emotions. My stomach was churning with sadness to say good-bye, even though I knew he was in great hands with my mom. But I was also really excited to have an entire weekend to hang out with Matt – not to mention the uninterrupted nights of sleep that awaited me for the first time in 10 weeks!
One of my friends from high school, Karl, was getting married this weekend. When he first told me the date, I wasn’t certain we’d be able to go but promised him I’d try. Karl sang at my wedding and has been one of my closest friends for almost half my life, so I really wanted to be there. Bo arriving a few weeks early definitely made it easier and about a month ago Matt and I decided to go for it and buy our plane tickets. We sort of figured the first time away from him was going to be super hard whether he was 10 weeks old or 10 months old. And with my mom enthusiastically agreeing to baby-sit, off we went!
We arrived in Memphis around mid-day on Friday and went off in search of the world famous Rendezvous barbecue. It was delicious (dry-rubbed pork ribs) but as a NC loyalist, if I had to choose one kind of pork BBQ to eat the rest of my life, I’m still choosing pulled with a vinegar sauce.
After lunch we just wandered around the area of our hotel (Union Ave/Beale St) since our room wasn’t ready yet. Once we could check in, we pulled the blinds shut and did what any couple would do being away from their new baby for the first time ever.
Took a three hour nap.
It was glorious and gave us the energy we needed to go out that night. I had made dinner reservations based solely on a location/rating filter on Yelp at a place called Flight Wine Bar. The idea sounded intriguing to me – the whole menu was based on the concept of flights, like flights of wine. So you could have a salad flight – a trio of mini salads – or an appetizer flight, dessert flight and even the entrees were available as flights. (You could also have them regular size, which is why I picked the restaurant because Matt’s not a huge fan of tapas.) We both ended up doing entrée flights – I had the seafood entrée which consisted of a mini lobster thermidor, a scallop with a fried quail egg on top of polenta and a small bowl of shrimp and grits. Matt had a flight with a small bison filet, a piece of halibut and the lobster thermidor. It. Was. Amazing. It was the perfect amount of food – I was full but not uncomfortable (which definitely would have happened had we allowed the waiter to convince us that we needed the dessert flight too). And it was delicious. If you’re ever (walking) in Memphis, go go go.
After dinner, we headed back to the hotel to meet my high school bestie Krissy who had just arrived, spent some time catching up with her over a glass (or two) of wine and then headed back out to a bar on Beale St to meet up with the wedding party after their rehearsal. It was like a mini high school reunion, where I got to catch up with so many of my favorites who I rarely get to see. This is one of my last HS friends to get married, so I realized this was the last time I may get to see a lot of these people in one place together save for maybe some reunions. I’ve known Karl since we were 14 and have been close with his whole family throughout the years, so it was awesome to get to see all of them – parents, siblings and even cousins who I’ve met through the years. Karl’s mom describes our friendship like this: “They went to the Valentine’s Dance freshmen year and Meggy wore red shoes.” This is about accurate, but what she doesn’t mention is my footwear made his very-preppy sister a little dubious about my judgment. (In all fairness to Jen, my high school year included many questionable fashion choices. Think skater jeans and baby doll t-shirts. Every bad fashion choice of the mid-90s.) Anyways! We managed to remain close all through high school, college and living in DC post college, and I fell head over heels with his future bride when I first met her a few years ago. There’s nothing like knowing your friends are marrying people who bring out the best in them, and this is definitely one of those cases.
Valentine’s Day, 1997. Witness the hint of red shoes peeking out from the dress. Stellar.
After Karl and I had been friends for about a year, his sister forgave my fashion faux paus and got me a job at the coffee shop she worked at. Making early morning runs to Wegman to buy food for the day at the coffee shop cemented the beginning of our friendship. We worked together at the coffee shop and then on a canal boat together for 3 years, and eventually I followed her to Hopkins for grad school and we were roommates together in DC. She and her husband moved out to Seattle a few years ago, and it pains me that they live so far away – especially now that they have the cutest little boy who I would FINALLY get to meet that weekend. When Jen and I first saw each other at the bar, there was some hugging and crying and some “omg we’re mommies now!!!!” as part of our reunion. Totally normal. (Poor, poor, wonderful, patient Matt.)
Karl, Krissy, me & Matt (I stole many of these photos from lovely Krissy, who actually brought a camera out with her that night.)
My Jennay (and an obnoxiously large beer. Oops)
Me, Janet (Karl’s mom) & Kris
The next day we set out to explore Memphis and took the Main St trolley down to a cute area called South Main District. We saw a crowd standing outside a restaurant and figured it must be good, so we added our names to the wait. It was called the Arcade Restaurant and turned out to be the oldest restaurant in Memphis. It was diner food, nothing spectacular and there were probably better & more interesting options around. Oh well! After our lunch, our plans to explore by foot were foiled by a heavy downpour so we got on the trolley and headed back to our hotel. Matt went off in search of a place to watch Wake football and Krissy & I grabbed some lattes (chai latte 2 pumps pumpkin, of course!) and went back to the hotel to catch up on the last year or so of our life. Our timing was perfect, because we also got back to the hotel in time to meet Jen & Ryan’s little boy, Harlan. I love meeting my friends’ children. It’s like you immediately love this tiny little person, because they are extension of someone else you love. It’s the best. And Harlan (10 months old) was a drooly, smiley, wiggly little charmer.
Then after another brief nap, it was time for the wedding. The wedding was at the Memphis Zoo! Fortunately, even though it was rainy and chilly at the outdoor amphitheater where the ceremony was held, a pashmina and a glass of champagne before heading into the ceremony did the trick.
Staying warm at the ceremony
And the ceremony was absolutely beautiful. I don’t exactly know where we were – I think maybe the amphitheater is used for seal performances? But it was rustic and warm and cozy, despite the rain and chilly night. The ceremony – performed by Karl’s brother-in-law (and Jen’s husband) Ryan, was personal and sweet and touching. And I have never seen the groom happier in his entire life.
The reception was (thankfully) indoors and shared a glass wall with the polar bear exhibit. All weddings should have a polar bear exhibit.
The reception was just a few hours long, and after stuffing ourselves with Memphis-style hor d’ourevers like (more!) barbecue and mini fried green tomato sandwiches and sweet potato bisque, we made our way back to the tram to head home. Except instead of heading home, I got a text from the ceremony officiant himself telling me the location of the after party. So… off we went! Here is where Matt is smarter than I am: when you have the opportunity to sleep for 8+ hours in a hotel room and you are returning home to a small infant, you should take it. Except it was, as I said before, one of the last times I felt like I’d see so many of my high school friends in one place and I wanted to soak up every last moment with them. I did and I can’t say I regret it – even though the alarm going off for our flight was brutal the next morning. But my heart feels happy and full when I think of those extra few hours I spent getting to catch up and talk to old friends. There is just something special about being with the people who have known you for so long. I formed such strong bonds with these people in high school, that even though I haven’t talked to many of them in years and our only connections have been “liking” each other’s lives through Facebook – we picked right back up where we left off.
So despite the absolute exhaustion I created for myself Sunday for our travel back and missing my little guy like crazy – thank goodness for FaceTime – it was a great weekend away and I’m so very glad we were able to be there.
Although, I have to say I am a little disappointed I did not see the ghost of Elvis on Union Ave.