Lights, sounds, the promise of something…something good, really good.
It was the energy that drew me in. Energy that not-so-gently drew me to the door, beckoning me to take that final step over the threshold, to take hold of the adventure waiting just for me. Perhaps it didn’t so much draw me but lured me; much like you can lure a child with the promise of ice cream. The overwhelming pull of the lights dancing with abandon, the sounds sending the assurance of dreams fulfilled. It gave me a feeling that I was somehow just on the brink of encountering one of life’s great moments. I hesitated, if only for an instant, not knowing what the day’s adventures would bring my way. Then, I knew I had to go in. I had to experience what was beyond that threshold. I was excited. As excited as the little girls dressed in their favorite princess attire to attend “Disney’s Princesses on Ice” at the FedEx Forum just down the street.
What greeted me was moving and more thought-provoking than I could have possibly imagined.
That Saturday began by crossing one very important adventure off my bucket list; visiting Graceland. That’s another story for another day however. The rest of the day’s to do list included Beale Street and finding a hole in the wall barbecue joint somewhere close to Beale Street. The barbecue joint was going to have to wait until my first stop was neatly tucked away in my memory bank.
With the afternoon sun high in the sky, I turned the corner and came face-to-face with the infamous Beale Street. What laid before me stopped me in my tracks. The visual was truly overwhelming. I had to get my bearings. There was sign after sign touting the best beer and blues joint ever. I felt a bit like Elf. I wanted to run in and congratulate each and every one of the staff. I imagined myself saying “Great job everyone! Best beer and blues! Way to go!” Wouldn’t that have been a sight; a crazy lady from the Midwest running from place to place congratulating each on a job well done. Actually, now that I think about it, no one would have thought much of it. It is, after all, Beale Street in Memphis.
I heard, rather than saw, my first stop. BB King’s Blues Club. The sound of a horn warming up, the mic check, the lick of a guitar, scales on a piano; it all sounded like adventure, like something out of a movie and I was going to play a part. Choosing a seat at the bar facing the stage was perfect. I ordered an ice-cold Blue Moon and looked around. It was as if I could imagine each person that had been there before me. Some were regulars, some were tourists like me, some simply stopped by for a beer and a burger with no other agenda in mind. They were there, in my mind; men, women, big, small, old and young. Legends, not legends…I saw them all.
Then, she sat down.
I paid little notice to the nice woman who politely asked if the seat next to us was available. I smiled politely but my attention was riveted to each wall, each table, the musician’s warming up, the sounds, the sights; my hunger to take it all in as quick as possible was begging to be fed. Then, I saw her, really saw her. My first impression was how nicely she matched. Shallow I know. Her deep coral shorts were topped by a lovely embroidered top which boasted stitching that matched the color of her shorts. I remember thinking how cool that she found shoes to match her shorts too.
Then the band began to play.
Blues. Blues like I’ve never heard before. It caught me and wouldn’t let go. I was enthralled, trance-like, and couldn’t turn away. The soulful sound of the sax, the bass, even the clothes the musicians wore. They mesmerized me from the start. I was hooked.
Then she began to dance in her chair.
I was dancing in my chair too if the truth be told. Seriously, when music hits your very soul how do you sit still? I wiggled and waggled in my chair. i clapped after each song. I smiled. Lord how I smiled. I couldn’t quit. I fell in love with the blues.
Then she got up out of her chair and headed to the dance floor. All by herself.
I watched as some were taken aback. How could this woman dance by herself? Judgement. All around. Then, magically almost, the dance floor began to seduce one, then two more, then several more people. This one woman, this one soul who felt the blues down deep, danced with abandon. Not a care in the world for the ones who thought it inappropriate for this woman to dance by herself. The music demanded it. She gave in to the demand. Then others joined her forgetting their earlier inhibitions.
We stayed much longer than intended. A barbecue joint must be found. I truly didn’t want to leave, yet I wanted to know what else Beale Street wanted to give me. As we left, this wonderful woman hugged me and told me to come back.
Then she smiled. And winked.
The shoe’s soul will forever be an inspiration to me. An inspiration to live life not watch it.
To take a chance.
To dance, each and every time the music demands it.