Now is the Time. Memphis is the Place.

Reflecting on My First Year in Memphis

I cannot believe this is my final blog post for the Year One series! When I was originally asked to consider writing about my experience as a first year resident in the Bluff City, I figured it would be a good way to “force” me to get out and partake in my newly adopted hometown.

A natural introvert and loner, no one would ever confuse me for a socialite or life of the party, but this experience has enriched me in more ways than I can count, and I hope that the new crop of Year One bloggers feel the same way.

So, what better way to end my time as a Memphis blogger than sharing all the things I love about Memphis!

Advice I would give to people considering moving to Memphis…

  • It is hot! Be prepared to feel like you’ve stepped into Satan’s mouth during the heat of summer! But there’s so many great places to enjoy the outside like Shelby Farms Park to Malco Summer Drive-In to the riverfront. Explore them all to find your favorite place.
  • Memphis has many diverse neighborhoods and suburbs. Really get to know them and see where you fit in…but don’t be afraid to explore others either. Everyone is really welcoming and there are true gems tucked away like Jerry’s Sno Cones or any of the really good, non-chain barbecue spots.
  • If you love barbecue, you’ll be in heaven! I’m not big on barbecue, but I’ve had the most divine sauced barbecue and perfect dry rub barbecue. If barbecue isn’t your scene, the food scene is pretty great here overall.
  • If you’re not from here, it’s you who has the accent and not Memphians! However, I guarantee that within a few months you’ll develop a little Memphis accent, especially with key words.

If I had to leave Memphis today, what would I miss?

I would miss just how much of an affordable place this is to live. For what I paid for my newly renovated, three bedroom, two bathroom home, I doubt that I’d be able to afford more than a studio or one-bedroom condo back home in DC.

Besides that, I think I’d miss the overall feel of the city. Like I’ve mentioned in previous posts, Memphis is kind of like an underdog city, and folks always cheer on the underdog. I don’t mean that in a demeaning way, it’s just there’s so much newness here that it’s exciting to be a part of and unlike any other city I’ve lived in. From the newly renovated Crosstown Concourse building to planned projects in areas like the Medical District and downtown, it’s so great to see the city change. Ooo…and who can forget 901 Day? That’s probably something I’d really miss.

click to see gallery

What was my absolute favorite experience this year and why?

This is so tough, but it really is a tie! I’m an arts guy, and one of the first experiences I had was seeing “Beauty and the Beast” at Theatre Memphis. It was nothing short of incredible, and one could swear you were on Broadway! The other one that ties for absolute favorite was the weekend that I saw the Memphis Symphony Orchestra. There is definitely a unique sound to the MSO, which makes sense considering the lingering musical influence of so many arts icons. That weekend was perfect with a trip to the Izakaya (which has now become Red Fish Bistro), which had some of the best décor in Memphis, not to mention a great lounge with terrific drinks. I, of course, must sneak in Frost Bake Shop, too, because I go there at least once a month to satisfy my sweet tooth!

Photo by Skip Hooper courtesy of Theatre Memphis.

If you could bring any one thing from another city to Memphis, what would it be?

Honestly, the city can be a little lonely if you move here alone, which I did. One thing I appreciated in my hometown of Washington, D.C., was the bustling nightlife scene. There aren’t really many options here for smaller segments of the population (e.g., young professional African Americans; LGBTQ; lounges, etc.) When I wanted to go hear and dance to hip hop, or sip a cocktail or two in a mature crowd with good music, there weren’t many options for me. Back home on U Street or 14th Street, or in Adams Morgan or Dupont Circle, one had a plethora of options. Even though I don’t go out much, the times that I wanted to go out, that is the one thing I missed about being back home.

What’s next for me…

There are some things I’ve yet to experience that I’m looking forward to in the coming year. I still have yet to go to the Orpheum Theatre, or Graceland, or really explore the surrounding suburbs or even places like Southaven, MS or Tunica for the casinos. All in good time, I’m sure, but I would have loved to have done so in my first year.

If I could go back and do anything differently, I would have gone out even more to meet new folks. I have the pleasure of now working with fellow Year One blogger, Khrystal, and I would have loved to have spent more time with Ava (who decided to become a teacher) and Daphne. I think I would have also loved to have developed a more historical appreciation for the city. For all it’s rich history, I didn’t get a chance to learn more about this city, especially areas like historic Orange Mound, the neighborhood where I now work.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As I reflect on my past year of living in Memphis, I go forward realizing that Memphis is now living in me. It’s been a great run, and while I don’t have any immediate plans on leaving, whenever I do decide to move on, Memphis will always have a special place in my heart as the city where I spread my wings and had some true milestones, the top one being given the responsibility of leading a school and shaping the minds of Memphis’ children. It’s not something I take lightly. I invite you to follow my school’s Facebook page to keep up with our journey forward. 

 

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