As you may know, I was in Memphis in July courtesy of the faucet fabulous Brizo Company, and visited Graceland. Growing up in South Africa in the sixties, we were exposed to Elvis and Cliff Richard. There was this ridiculous rule to idolize only one. I chose Cliff because he was the safe boy next door. But I secretly wanted to choose Elvis. The too handsome bad boy with passionate voice.
Fast forward to Paul Simon’s album Graceland. I guess this was an Elvis pilgrimage. White boy goes native, discovers rich roots and depth of tribal music, and is inspired to inspire. Driving across bridges, after doing my video for my book release, singing and crying all the way to more unraveling people pleasing layers, on this mystical journey to the center of the Universe. Eager for the next alchemic stepping stone, I relish my visit Graceland. Said to be like coming home, and so it was for me. A bus ride to the entry, where two lions and swirls of wrought iron greet us at the classic portal.
While the mansion looks grand without, it is less grand within. A white gloved man opens the gate and there ends the upper crust touch. We are informed that while you can linger as long as you like you cannot backtrack. Gospel in Graceland lingers in life. The hall is generous and full of snapping fools below the looming stairs dead ahead, where no Graceland Gazer can tread.
I am shocked at how tasteful the formal dining and living rooms are. The only jarring note is the stained glass windows leading to the music room. Which brings it all into perspective. The mix of personal style and time. The original decorator on the project in1957 George Golden shares that he had carte blanche in every room. The public rooms are the only spaces that still reflect his original design, sans seventies mirrors, marble and those stained glass windows. Graceland was updated to a gaudier style and all the rooms were revamped, so while the front rooms have been reverted back for the most part, the rest of the home has more a seventies aura. Sadly a requirement of the job for Golden was no photos. Besides formal front room shots that were made public there is no record of how the rest of the house looked in 1958.
The kitchen, is windowless and carpeted. Updated in popular seventies orange and brown country, I am underwhelmed and disappointed in the heart of the home. Going down the stairs to basement, the media room beneath the formal living room is dressed in early sectional style, pop art chic with mirrored cushions and a painted wall design. Across the hall beneath the dinning room is a luxuriously tented billiard room where I linger trying to imagine Elvis and his friends partying it up. The rooms feel like a still life magazine spread from the old days. Stairs up from basement to jungle room are covered completely in carpet, including the ceiling.
I am enchanted, repelled and nostalgic all at once. These rooms remind me rooms of my past. Like I being transported back in time, a very bizarre feeling of going home. The “rumpus” or jungle room to the right of the kitchen is complete with a grotto wall, fake fur furniture, stuffed animals and a tikki bar. Not a room I would linger in, even if the King was sprawled in one of his jumpsuits on a furry couch.
Nostalgia is powerful, I feel emotions welling up. Maybe the memories of my past mixed in with the ghost of Elvis. The back of the house looks familiar too, as does the pool. All very lovely yet ordinary, besides the big paddocks and white fencing which strike an odd note. Yet shadows lurk beneath the surface. Elvis may have been a rebel, rousing millions following a calling he discovered in the hills of Tennessee. Using moves that terrified ‘polite’ folk, but he was also a good boy who wanted to do the right thing. People pleasing shows up in the co-dependent relationship he shared with Tom Parker, those spoken dreams not met of an overseas tour that was possible, and the refusal to say no to a punishing boring schedule. Perhaps out of fear of not being good enough to trust his intuitive longings. Living passionately requires the courage to fail or be booed, and people to support your growth. Maybe that why Graceland called, a reminder to take risks, and not get too comfortable. with what is stopping me.
As Elvis’s sings in the racquet ball court hall of fame, an immense sadness wafts over me for this incredible artist who stopped short of going for the gold within. Yet he shifted the world, created a bridge between white and black through music and movement. That raw energy stirred desire and burning hunks of love, igniting many to new moves.
Perhaps Elvis’s story is a Shakespeare tale of our times.
What of you? Are you trusting your dreams and walking toward them in spite of challenges? If you need guidance to break through people pleasing habits get in touch. I can support your healing in sacred space. Or leave a comment about Graceland, bridges or whatever risking all or refusing has done for you.
Joie de Vivre,