|Apparently...we look like we are "straight up gay" in this picture.|
I started Grad School in 2005, drank like a fish, spent New Years in New York after both of my grandmothers died within a month of one another. I tried to date, but everything promising terrified me to the point of self destruction. I did lots of self-destructive things my first two semesters in graduate school. I had never rebelled as a young thang. I was steadfast and loyal....good. Oh how I tried so desperately to be good.
Then the summer came and my best friend and I lived like we were kings....that drank a lot, loved the boys, belched and farted like no other woman has or should, woke up hungover...most days, and laughed...because it was the only true remedy to the hell of real life. We shut down the Hi-Tone (the original Hi-Tone on Poplar Ave) on a weekly basis, broke into apartment complexes with pools and jacuzzis, befriended booth owners at the Memphis International BBQ festival, danced at the Lindy Hop, danced, drunk as hayle at Ernestine and Hazel's, and ate McGriddles....so many McGriddles. We had a love affair with Midtown Memphis. We were partners in crime. She turned to me one night and told me that it was a time we were having and that it would have to end at some point, and she was right. I taught English in the Czech Republic, but not before stopping over in London to visit my college roommate who happened to be there attending art school. We went with an Englishman friend of mine (that I kissed a bunch outside of The Buccaneer in Memphis while a bluegrass band played inside and then months later again in a churchyard in Prague after getting totally wasted at a nightclub on dollar beers) to a club called The End where the DJ Erol Alkan hosted a party, Trash, which he ended every night by playing The Smith’s classic “There is a Light that Never Goes Out,” while the English boys smashed their beer glasses on the floor, and everyone, everyone, EVERYONE sang along like the night would never end and we would never grow old. My local tour guide (and worldwide makeout buddy extraordinaire) also introduced me to my next boyfriend that night, a fella from Manchester that was studying Diatoms to predict climate change (I think) in grad school. We talked about England’s recent loss in the World Cup, to Portugal, and he struggled to describe how it felt to know he had to wait four years for another chance. I helped him by reminding him that presidents in the U.S. serve four year terms. He laughed at my cleverness. He turned to me at the end of the night, pointed up to indicate the song everyone was singing, and yelled over the pulsing crowd, “THIS IS A TCHUNE!” I took a class on Emerson the semester after that summer, and fate’s hand dipped its fingers back into my stew. The instructor, on the first day, informed the class that we would just be reading a lot of Emerson and if anyone wanted to drop the class, that was fine with him. No one dropped, and we entered into a philosophical journey that led me to my research obsession, how to apply Emerson’s transcendental tenets to women in a world that did not allow women the freedom to “transcend.” The instructor introduced me to Margaret Fuller and her essays, letters, journals, and activism began to guide my life in directions I had never imagined. I spent the next two years, travelling with my English gentleman and reading about Fuller, buried in printouts from JStore, academic articles examining Fuller’s relationship to her mentors like Emerson and Hawthorne, her admirers like Poe and Whitman, and her relationship to herself, the most torrid, the most confused, as she wrestled with society’s expectations and her own nature. She was a beast of an intellect, obsessed with learning as much as she could and sharing that knowledge, but her fervor was lost on the men in her life. They did not know what to do with the feelings they had for her that she pressed them to explore in the name of life and liberty. They would fall short, literary giants, lost for words in the company of a woman that did not fit the mold. How curious it is that her history is known by so few…
Before I finally put pen to paper to write and eventually defend my Master’s Thesis, We travelled to Spain, Valencia and Barcelona, road bicycles out into the countryside and ate Paiaya and locally grown almonds on the beach of the mediterranean sea as the sun set. Then we fell asleep listening to the echoes of night owl footsteps along the stone streets below us. We fought. We went to food markets and bought avocados that we ate on fresh bread spread with Marmite and bananas. It was weird. We visited art museums and read the labels for each piece, took naps in the park, and fought. We made it to Prague a few days before we were to begin teaching in Pilsen, and we explored her medieval streets until our whole bodies ached, and we fought. Then, we taught English for three weeks in West Bohemia, drank with teachers and students from all over the world but mostly Memphians and Czechs. We smoked Hookah in a tea lounge off a quiet street in the center of the city, drank liqueur that put hair on my chest, and ate beef knuckles and Goulash, slept on beaches in the shade, and road trolleys everywhere. And we drank beer, rushing under the city from the source, pure and fresh, our nourishment, for in the Czech Republic, beer is food.
Then....I sold my stuff, and I moved to England with the intention of not coming back for a long time.