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TRANSLATION: MEMPHIS

TRANSLATION: MEMPHIS

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Well, it's happened. If I can be defined as a member of "Generation X," according to whatever committee in media-definition land proclaims the acceptable parameters of such things, then I have hit the nouveau chic status of having reached my quarter-life crisis. To be 25, the symbolic quarter in a world of dollars. To have ascended from the coveted demographic of ages 18-24, only to be lumped in with 25-40, or whatever the next one is. Ugh. It's depressing. OK, I know. Poor me. Realistically, age 25 is nothing to be afraid of-it's a standard number associated with celebration, and even gets to claim the color silver. I like silver. To be sure, this year's 25th anniversary extravaganza at Graceland will put observance number 24 to shame, no? Only the best impersonators will be there, the most committed fans will flock to Memphis from far and wide. But for me, all sorts of questions flood in. Granted, they're the trite and standard types of life questions one can dissect vicariously on Dawson's Creek, if that show is still on the air. They're the where am I in life ponderings. The billowy daytime TV-styled self-analyses. Middle of the night reflections that eat away at normal sleep. No, not true. Sleep comes way first on my priority list. Ever since they invented that quarter-life crisis, though, I've been awaiting its effects like a nightly news-watching, pop culture journal-reading junkie of modern times. In celebration of my 25th year as a Gemini (read woman afflicted with multiple personalities if you are so inclined--we get such a bad rap) I've had a rather bicoastal month. After my stint back home in Jersey, and then my return to the source, the Mississippi and Memphis, I spent a week out in LA testing my aptitude at Pacific Coast culture, and then came back again. Whew. Hello jetlag. In Los Angeles, the city inhabited by angels who don't look 25 even when they're 40, I saw people and lives of all kinds. I walked amidst the fashionably mismatched creatures of Venice Beach who peddled trinkets, psychic advice, booty call incense, acupuncture, natural ecstasy, artwork, and everything in between. One cosmically intuitive salesman offered my friend and I a 50% discount off of all of the crap in his shop because he knew, this Mr. Cleo did, that we were truly in love. Though disappointed when we told him that we weren't in that kind of love, he said he'd still give us the deal. Now that's some salesmanship right there. I also saw a city within the city made of cardboard and desperation, somewhere in central LA. Blocks and blocks of box homes and weatherworn people lined an area outside of the jewelry district. LA, city of the human landscape, of potentiality and prospects, of self-promotion, self-definition, and chance. Maybe LA is America's quarter-life crisis in action, with so many ideas bouncing within its oceanfront head about what it might become. There, the people dream that the imagined can be real. But in a blur, my plane was returning me here, back to Memphis, for the second time this month. To celebrate my return, and bid goodbye to the first shiny quarter of my life, I went downtown to check out the Sunset Symphony. Shamefully, I'll admit that I took off to rent some movies before the actual orchestra started, but when it was over I could hear the fireworks ringing like syncopated cannon bursts from my apartment in Midtown. And my time being 18-24 receded in lights and blazes, to be replaced with this new "adult" state. Again, poor, poor me. To be honest, I don't really feel that I have suddenly grown old. Isn't it interesting, though, to gauge yourself from time to time against popular culture's demographical categories? A few weeks ago, I pondered my identity as a Yankee Southerner, and now I do so as a 2nd quarter of lifer, here in Memphis, and ready to go. If there really is some crisis going on in some hidden pocket of my head, though, then here's my planned remedy. I'll take one pill with the memories of my life up North, one full of the hopefulness and will to define the "new" from LA, and I'll wash it down over a beer as the sun sets over the Mississippi. I'll let you know what happens in the morning.

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