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Tuesday, April 28, 2015

An Ode to Memphis

When I first heard of Rhodes College, I thought to myself, "Oh here we go. Another small, liberal arts school." But then, I saw that it wasn't like your usual liberal arts school in a major way - it was in a huge city.

Most schools like Rhodes, like Sewanee, Centre, or Berry, are in very small towns and not all that close to big cities. Rhodes stood out to me because it was in a city, and a really big one at that.

As it became less of a blip and more of a solid destination on my radar, and as I visited more and more, I quickly fell in love with the school. Shortly after I committed, I realized that not everyone knew exactly where Rhodes was, and I would answer the standard, "So, where are you going to school next year?" question with "Rhodes College, uh, it's in Memphis."

Usually then, people had a better idea of what I was getting myself into. They would usually wish me well, and then add a comment like "Be careful!" or "Don't get shot!" into the mix as they were walking away. These comments were half serious and half joking, because let's be real for a second - Memphis has a bad rap. It's high on the per capita crime list, it has a lot of gang violence, and it has a lot of poverty and homelessness. If you simply Google it, you'll probably get a couple hits telling you how bad this place is.

I couldn't disagree more.

I must concede that I am in a great part of town. Midtown is lively and energetic, and it is home to some fantastic schools, restaurants, boutiques, and neighborhoods. All in all, there's an unmistakeable beat to this city that is alluring and intoxicating in the best ways.

Memphis has a certain draw to it. It's a place where people work hard, day in and day out, and they take what they can get. Coming from Chattanooga, which if y'all have read for a while, you know I am borderline obsessed with, I wasn't expecting a whole lot of beauty in this city. I'm used to a majestic riverfront and a feeling of safety almost everywhere I went. I expected Memphis to be ugly. I was very, very wrong. There are ugly parts, sure. There are ugly parts of every city. But there are pockets of gorgeous mansions and quaint townhouses, there are hidden gems and holes-in-the-wall everywhere, and there is a genuineness about the people here that you won't find in many other places.

If I could sum up Memphis in two words, it would be energetic and authentic.

I will miss this place over the next three months, but I know I will return in August with a deeper appreciation and love for it. xx, Victoria

Photos by Olivia Burchett (Middle photo)

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xx, Victoria