Memphis, Egypt or Tennessee???
Memphis Tennessee begot her name from no less than the first royal city of Egypt. The original Memphis stood majestic along the Nile river, just as my Memphis sits on the great American Nile - the Mississippi. Memphis even once had a football team called the pharaohs. A little hint to the wise, never name your sports team after THE biblical archetype of the bad guy defeated by a pack of slaves....Why tempt God? If there was ever a team destined to be defeated this was it!
Oh, and then to continue the Egypt theme, there’s the famous Memphis Pyramid. Maybe you've seen pictures of it. It's this massive pyramid of mirrors, planted there along the river. A building which went from a failed concert/sports arena to a mega-church to now housing - a Bass Pro fishing shop. That's right y’all, servicing all your fish-pole and handgun needs. Like the great pyramids of lore, made to represent the sublimest ideals of Egyptian culture...so too the Memphis pyramid now stands as an icon of the highest of Southern heritage – hunting and fishin...Can I hear an amen?!?
A pyramid with a sharp-point - but otherwise rather pointless. Although I suppose it does have one very poignant point for me, personally. It is my very own larger-than-life standing symbol of 'leaving Egypt', my own slice of inner-Egypt personified on an external piece of architecture.
What a convenient symbol…the perfect stage from which to launch my own epic reliving of an ancestral exodus. From the Mississippi delta to Delta airlines flight #152 Memphis to Atlanta, Atlanta to Tel Aviv...where you age 40 years in the span of just 18 grueling hours. – And so it was with a strong hand, that I was plucked from my southern wasteland.
But don’t get me wrong, all that bad mouthing of Memphis is just playful exaggeration. It was - actually - quite a lovely childhood there in suburban South. Idyllic even. Held cozy in a quaint Jewish community of upper-middle class means. I remember petting ponies on my morning walks to Riverdale Elementary. Baskin Robbins ice-cream every weekend, JCC camp every summer I even went to the same high school as my mother...
Oh, and I played out the American high school dream to a T. I was a cheerleader, class officer – was even rewarded the ultimate prize of high school popularity-mongering – being crowned homecoming queen...(quite possibly the first Jewish queen in White Station high school history.) But as much as I excelled in blending-in, got all A's in my “Assimilate Yourself” classes, I was still unavoidably a yid...still got bat-mitzvahed and paid my dues at Hebrew school...
(to be continued...)