Saturday, October 18, 2008

Finding Graceland

Somewhere in the mass of clutter that continues to get moved from house to house, there is a small, black-and-white printout of the United States. On that paper, several states are highlighted - I think in blue - to indicate those that I've visited.

My goal is to see them all. Sooner than later, preferably. I think I'm just over halfway to my goal. I thought I would have the chance to check some off my list while driving from Virginia to California, but, well, Playette and I opted out of 80% or more of that road trip when we took a plane to Arizona.

I don't count states that I've flown over or only know through an airport stop. No, I have to have done something. Something I can remember.

All that to say, this is part of the reason why I'm traveling to the states that I am for work: I've never been to the majority of them. Driven through when I moved from Texas to the DC area as a child? Sure. But, like I said, that doesn't count when it comes to my map and I'm all about the map.

Last week's trip to Arkansas was absolutely highlight-worthy. I was in two cities, had a great tour of the countryside (driving by all of the cotton fields brought up feelings of both fear and sadness, but you won't understand unless you understand), and met some really nice people. Plus, I went to Memphis and I'd never been to Tennessee before then.

It almost didn't count. I drove straight from the airport to Jonesboro, unfortunately bypassing the National Civil Rights Museum, Beale Street, and all that famous barbecue in order to ensure that I'd reach my final destination during daylight hours.

I felt kinda bad about that so once I was done with my work, I headed straight towards the Tennessee border with the hopes that I'd have time to do something before catching my flight to NW Arkansas.

But what to do? Was there anything I could do in an hour and a half without risking being late for my flight? I still had a rental car to return off-site, after all.

Then I thought of it. I checked the GPS and it would work. Then I laughed. "I don't think I'm supposed to want to go here," I said to myself. As I later would think about dinner with the Duggars, I feared that I'd get looks of disdain and stick out like a sore thumb.

But I did it. It was predictably ostentatious and kinda creepy, but I did it.

Tennessee, check.