by Ben McCormick ’18
A day of pause began with an 8:45am wake-up call in room 231, one of the rooms where our group was staying in the Hampton Inn. The thirteen of us grabbed a quick complimentary breakfast and left at 10:00am sharp to visit Memphis, TN before driving back to Clarksdale, MS for our second week of service with Habitat.
Expecting Memphis to be as typical as any other city, I was pleasantly surprised by the rich musical history and Southern qualities that made the visit a unique experience. Ironically unlucky for the group, the streets were engulfed in the remnants of St. Patrick’s Day festivities. When I say unlucky for the group, I specifically mean Elenor, who stepped in vomit while admiring an adorable puppy tucked away in a woman’s jacket. We continued to explore the streets in groups despite the misfortune. We first stopped at the nearest souvenir shops, which seems to have become tradition these past few days, and then continued down to the banks of the Mississippi River.
By the water we saw a large pyramid that seemed to glow in the distance. The time read 11:25am, but Valerie asked for everyone to meet back at B.B. King’s Blues Club for lunch at 12:30pm and we knew we had limited time to reach the building. We decided to seize the opportunity and accepted the journey along the river to meet the pyramid, which held Bass Pro Shops.
With limited time after arriving 25 minutes later, we raced in and were greeted by hunting and fishing gear galore along with many tasteful candies and arcade games. What specifically caught our attention was the gigantic elevator that led to the top of the pyramid. Admission to the top was shockingly $10, so we decided to shop around downstairs anyway. Our purchases ranged from snapbacks to camo hoodies. If you know me at all, you know that I would never wear something camo or that is typical to hunting or fishing, but this was a special occasion. In my mind, I see this as two things: one, an impulse purchase, or two, that the South is really changing me in small ways. Valerie and Emma were kind enough to come and drive us back, and I happily embraced my new hat for the entire five minute ride to the restaurant. Then I realized I can’t pull off hats.
B.B. King’s Blues Club greeted us with fantastic live music, courtesy of Flic’s Pics, which featured a Grammy nominee on the drums. The food was equally as terrific as the music was compelling. After we finished our meals we had to dance to the music, and we were greeted by a pro on the dancefloor.
Our time in Memphis was a success, and we began our journey back into Mississippi by pausing to place our feet on the grounds of Arkansas and then to immediately pile back into the two crammed vans. We arrived at our new home in Clarksdale after an hour and a half in the vans. The small light blue house was surrounded by energetic children riding their bikes, who I look forward to getting to know throughout the course of our stay. Before truly settling in, we took another trip to Walmart to shop for groceries.
Tortillas and nachos were the featured entrees to our home-cooked meal that evening. While Beau, Susie, and Jacob prepared guacamole, I sliced and diced some veggies to make the salsa recipe my mother taught me, Emma prepared nachos, and Julia perfected tortillas. The joint effort between all of us made this dinner special, and the confusion of the others who were piecing together a puzzle a few feet away added to the home-like environment. During dinner, there was not a single person quiet, and we were all enjoying the food and our new home. Tomorrow we begin our first day, and I know we all are anticipating the new work that lays ahead.