My wife and I were invited to a party in Germantown last weekend, at a house deep in a maze of winding streets named Woody Oaks, Cedar Dale, Brier Creek, and other sylvan fantasies. It was at a lovely home with a lush yard and big trees — and some interesting folks to talk to.
I struck up a conversation with a woman from Collierville. When I told her that I lived in Memphis, she regaled me with tales of how she used to live in Midtown and hung out at Overton Square back in the 1970s, "before it died."
"Have you been there lately?" I asked. "You can't even find parking on weekend nights."
"Really? Where do they go?" she asked, genuinely puzzled. I started to run down the list of a dozen restaurants, old and new, the three (soon to be four) theaters, YoLo, Studio on the Square, etc., but then I thought, what's the point? We live in two different worlds. Mine's no better than hers, but I might as well be from Venus, for all we have in common.
Which leads me to put on my Dr. Phil face and say what has to be said: It's time for Memphis and Shelby County to start seeing other people. We've tried for years to patch things up, to come to some sort of mutual understanding, but we need to admit that we have irreconcilable differences. We don't even know each other any more.
We need a divorce for the sake of the children, if nothing else. It's not healthy for them to see us fighting all the time. We have nothing in common. You like Dogwood Glen and Misty Pines. I like Vinton and Tutwiler. You like malls and big new houses and convenient shopping and Amerigo and Bahama Breeze. I like sidewalks, imperfect old houses, and locally owned restaurants I can walk to. You don't mind driving everywhere. You like big yards and space between your houses. I like downtown and the river and the weirdness and stimulation urban living can bring. You like movie megaplexes and spacious parks. I like the Levitt Shell, art galleries, and funky little bars.
You fear crime. I fear boredom.
The only thing we have in common, honestly, is that we both love our kids. You want a school system that you can control out there in Bartlett, Arlington, Collierville, etc. I get that, and I approve. Go for it, with my blessing. But for the sake of our kids' future, we need an amicable divorce. If Memphis fails, so do you. So let's divide the assets equitably, allow each other visitation, and when we run into each other at, say, Costco or at a Grizzlies game, let's just be nice and remember the good times.