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I'm Going to Graceland, Graceland in Memphis, Tennessee

Author: paluhl
Email: paluhl@earthlink.net
Date of Trip: October 2006

The next stop on the tour is an addition to the house that contains more memorabilia, more old fashioned TVs playing the clips from various shows, and then a long hallway with walls covered top to bottom with gold records and awards. This man did a whole lot of shakin' in the 21 years that spanned his career.

You turn the corner and there are more glassed exhibits of movie memorabilia, clothes and lots of Elvis souvenirs. The merchandising of Elvis is nothing new. Then, at the end of this hallway of exhibits, you see the first of the jump suits. They are quite something up close and clearly made of quality materials and adornments. The style is pure Vegas. And by the size of them, he started wearing these stage outfits while he was still slim. Out the door, and passing by some more really bad fan paintings of Elvis and family, we proceeded to the racquetball court, a very expensive addition that Elvis had built behind the house, and that now has yet even more memorabilia, including the later and more flamboyant jumpsuits. More TV clips and lots of memorabilia from the later years. It was here that my digital camera battery died, just before I could snap the most absurd of the jumpsuits.

Our audio tour keeps us moving right along, and we are back outside by the small, kidney-shaped pool. It's very appealing with just enough trees for a little shade. Then we are pulled to the meditation garden, where Elvis, his parents and grandmother, Minnie Mae are buried. It is very small, and has rectangular bronze plaques memorializing each one. Flowers, silk and real, and stuffed animals are placed all around, and come from fans. The garden is embraced by a curving wall made of Mexican brick and antique Spanish stained glass. The group is quiet and reflective as we pass slowly through, reading the inscriptions on the graves. I am moved more than I expected to be. I have a strong feeling that this was a real home and a happy one. Something I hadn't even really considered, as it is now really a museum. The feeling from years past still lingers and gives Graceland a true grace.

I still wonder why we came and what we were looking for. Clearly it is more than a lark, because we have waited 25 years and rekindled a friendship that was very close but dormant. I think that maybe we planned this trip to make sure that as the years went by, we would have a touchstone. A time and place to find our friendship again. The one past and the one being lived, right there at Elvis' grave site. I'm proud of us for keeping this pact. For making the effort when it would have been all too easy to give in to other pressures of time and resources.

Then suddenly, the tour is over, and we are waiting behind a rope for an empty bus to pull up and take us back across the street to the complex. More exhibits await us there, and though we've been touring Graceland for an hour and a half, we haven't reached saturation. Onto the cars! The planes! And all 9 gift shops.

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