• 23 Oct 2008

    It is no accident that our most poignant moments happen when we least expect them.

    Yesterday, facing limited time and a plethora of tourist options, from Graceland to the ducks that stroll through the lobby of the Peabody Hotel, I set out by bus to see Memphis.

    Let me start my stating clearly that, unlike my hero Sarah Vowel, I am not enamored of historic assassination sites.  My inclinations are toward places of achievement (Monticello), accomplishment (Independence Hall, Philadelphia) or beauty (Taj Mahal).  Assassination.  Not so much.

    And so it was that, as my bus turned the corner on a nondescript street in Memphis and the familiar motel came into sight, my reaction was unexpected.

    I was not quite 10 years old when Martin Luther King was assassinated at the Lorraine Motel.  Though I would have to wait several years to grasp the significance and full weight of this national loss, it strikes me today that it may be impossible to really conceive.  The car that Reverend King was driving that day is parked, timelessly, and the site is maintained so meticulously that, for a moment, you are there.

    And while I can study the history and the context, the full measure of that single event is impossible to grasp.  I left feeling very small.

    The next day, I reconnected with Debra Rieves.  Debra was the first person that I met here in West Memphis and, as you will hear, it was a blessing and a joy.  She is a walking testament to southern hospitality and a delightful force of nature.  What I did not know was the significance of this moment in her life. 

    Debra Rieves

    I left feeling very moved.

    Posted by jm-admin @ 9:48 pm

6 Responses

  • Roderick Says:

    Wow. Glad you stayed, if it meant you met Debra.

  • Craig Wiesner Says:

    Hi Julie,

    Wow! Just listening to your conversation this morning something struck me…… If we want to get to know the “real America,” all we have to do is ask the person greeting us at the door, the person sitting next to us on the bus, the person driving us to the airport, the person strolling by…… “How are you doing?” and really wait to hear the answer. But sometimes you have to jump on a scooter and drive across the country to take those moments to stop and really listen.

    Thank you!

  • Sharon Says:

    Wonderful interview with Debra. Your time in Memphis sounds very meaningful. I’m so glad you’ve carved out this time in your life to have this experience.

    And I love Craig’s comment. It really is so simple, and so within our grasp everyday, to connect with others. It just takes a willingness to listen.

    Miss you very much but am thrilled you’re on this journey!

    tons o’ love,

  • Linda Says:

    Very happy for your experience and your willingness to share what you have learned with us.
    Great interview … I’ll be more aware of the person next to me!
    THANKS Jul,

  • Debra Rieves Says:

    Hi Julie,
    Just wanted to let you know I’m enjoying reading about all your other adventures on the road. My husband and I did get some good news. The bone scan came back clean. We are very hopeful of conquering prostate cancer. Thank you so much for visiting us at the Cupboard, you have inspired me to take a closer look at the political views of others. I only wish your friends and family could have seen you in all your gear the very first time I met you. You looked a little worn and weary. It was a lot of fun having you here and hope you make it back to family and friends safely. Wish you could bring them all back to Arkansas soon. Good Luck and Happy Traveling


  • Bobbi Dodge Says:

    Julie, I am the Carlson’s friend whom you met at the Karaoke (sp?)
    in West Memphis, AR. I am so glad to learn you are home safely. I am sure you feel quite fulfilled that you completed your journey successfully!

    You are a charming, lovely young woman. We enjoyed having you
    here. Do come back again—

    If I am ever in California, would love to call you. I think you
    gave your contact information to Dixie and Ralph Carlson–