We didn’t go to Cabo for Spring Break. Daytona Beach never made the list. If somebody had mentioned Cancun, we probably would’ve yawned. Why, I can’t say for sure. We were surely as drunk as every other college kid. Our libidos worked fine–too fine most of the time. I was running from a relationship that wasn’t going to work and killing time before another relationship that would fail. Getting out of town and to a proper place was the only goal.
We drove through a March night and turned the CD player to Uncle Tupelo’s “New Madrid” as we crossed the Missouri Bootheel. Mr. Browning may have had a prediction, but we had a week off and we weren’t about it to spend it playing Sega hockey and drinking Natural Light. We hit the Mississippi River crossing just in time for someone to say, “Graceland.”
We were on our way to New Orleans, hopped up on goofballs, and eager to bury ourselves in Bourbon Street gutter trash. It was dark and the chances of seeing a pink Cadillac were as good as one of us doing something smart over the next three days. We were on our way to make memories. Sure, they would be stupid memories, but they were going to be memories nonetheless. First, we were going to look for the King.
Yes, Graceland was closed. That much was understood. Why, then, we went out of our way to pull up to the gate, I don’t know. I just know we snapped the picture below before hopping back in the car and driving the next six hours to the Big Easy.
I found this picture today as I finished turning my office into a nursery. When the photo was taken (1995? 1996?), I could never have imagined having an office, let alone having to give it up for a second nursery. Then, every decision was made at the last minute–whether to go to New Orleans, whether to stop at Graceland, whether to buy that girl in the beret another drink. Now, I buy concert tickets months in advance and spend as much money on life insurance every month as I did on college beer binges. Back then, I was paying to live. Now, I’m paying in case I die.
Make no mistake, I am happy where I am. I have a beautiful wife, an old dog, and 1 8/9th kids. I have wonderful friends and a great life. But I do miss those carefree times, those times where being stupid was expected, those times when my hair was still growing instead of retreating, those times when Elvis was dead and we were young.