I met Eso Tolson and Siphne Aaye last summer. Artistik Approach performed at Spillit the same night I told my Prince story. After the show, we were hanging out and I noticed his shirt said, “Embrace Your Inner Memphis.” He told me it was his own design and told me the story behind it.
I was still adjusting to living in Memphis and I couldn’t fathom embracing it. So when he suggested I buy one of his shirts my response was a crisp, “Hell No.” I’m sure folks could see snowflakes. Eso laughed it off and then we all went to dinner.
I went to the Choo Restaurant to check out Siphne’s latest mural, Connected. It is a series of train and travel-related vignettes on the side of the restaurant facing the tracks. I can’t wait for the unveiling! Eso was there, along with Darius B. Williams and Averelle Mondie–the very same people I met that summer night.
While I was hugging Eso’s neck, I asked: “Do your shirts come in a ladies’ cut? Unisex shirts make me look like a linebacker.” I am quite sure I heard the Universe giggle.
Eso suggested I stop by his table the Connect901 Holiday Pop-up shop and try a shirt on
before I asked him to special order one for me. I did and I loved it! I bought a large shirt, then graphic designer Ryan Stewart cut the shirt on me. I call it the “Chopped and Screwed” version. It was such an amazing experience! I felt so beautiful. Then Darius B. Williams went and snapped the fly ass picture of me and it was over! You couldn’t tell nothin’ me anything for the rest of the night.
I suppose I have embraced my Inner Memphis. My family is originally from Memphis. My first memories of life are in this city.
My storytelling roots were established in a wild strawberry patch thriving on the rhymic hum of my granddaddy’s air conditioning at the house on Brantley Road. It was one of the first places I visited when I returned to Memphis in 2015. FYI, you do not want to show up *unannounced* at a house in South Memphis waxing nostalgic about how your grandfather poured the driveway and raised three generations of your family in that house. Just don’t. I’m sure I didn’t get my ass kicked because I had my very pregnant cousin and her baby in the car.
I rediscovered my strength and my voice here. Memphis demands your best if you want to thrive on her shores. I’m up for the challenge, are you?