Why in the world was she being drawn to Tennessee?
Posted in , Jul 9, 2018
Here I was again, back in Memphis, Tennessee. I stood in front of the massive wrought iron gate, shaped like a songbook and dotted with musical notes. A sense of calm washed over me. Like I belonged. Like I was home. I pushed the gate doors open and made my way up the long, winding driveway. The mansion rose before me, its white Corinthian columns and stone lions unmistakable. He was calling me closer with every step. The King himself. Elvis Presley.
My eyes snapped open and I sat up in my bed on the couch with a start. Six o’clock in the morning. I glanced around the cramped one-bedroom apartment. I was still in Columbus, Ohio, at my friend Pauline’s place, where I’d been living ever since I lost my job as a nurse’s aide two months earlier. Around the same time the dreams started.
They were always the same. Me at Elvis’s home in Graceland, walking through the gates of his stately Southern estate. Sometimes I even made it inside the house. It was all so bizarre. I’d moved around a lot in my life. But I’d never stepped foot in Tennessee, let alone Graceland. I wasn’t even a big Elvis fan! That was my mother’s thing. She loved his music. Me? I could sing along if one of his songs came on the radio and I’d seen footage of Graceland on TV, but that’s as far as my knowledge went.
I got up and rubbed my neck, sore from another night of sleeping on the couch. Pauline and I had worked together before I was let go. I was so thankful to have a place to stay until I got back on my feet. But part of me wondered if that would ever happen. I’d applied to about a million jobs, even outside my field.
I had asked God to guide me, but I’d never felt more lost. Like every door had been slammed in my face. Unlike at Graceland. In those dreams, I felt calm, self-assured, like anything was possible. Yet what did it all mean?
Before I could ponder my dream any further, the phone rang. My mother. I told her how discouraged I felt. “Honey, I keep getting this idea in my head that you should move south,” she said. I almost dropped the phone. I’d never told Mom about my dreams, but I did now. “Good changes are heading your way,” she said with confidence. “The King wouldn’t steer you wrong.”
I wanted to believe that. But when Pauline got home from work, I got more bad news. She’d been laid off too. Now neither of us had money coming in. Worse, she’d be moving in with her brother until she could figure things out. We would have to be out of her apartment by the end of the month. Pauline had somewhere to go, but I would have no place to live, no job, no…
“Don’t worry,” Pauline said. “My brother said both of us are welcome to stay with him until we get sorted out. He lives down in Tennessee.”
Tennessee? Was she serious? I told her about my dreams. “Maybe God really wants you to move to Tennessee,” she said.
With no better ideas, I went to the library the next day and searched for jobs near Clarksville, where Pauline’s brother lived. One caught my eye, a sales position for a mobile homes company. I had no sales experience, but something about it just seemed right. I called the phone number in the ad. The receptionist told me I would have to fill out an application in person. There was no guarantee I’d get the job. If I didn’t go to Tennessee, though, I’d never find out.
Pauline and I drove to Clarksville at the end of the month. Maybe it was wishful thinking, but something about the place really appealed to me. I’d never felt so comfortable so quick in any other city I’d moved to.
Monday morning I showed up at the mobile homes company. “You’ll need to take a test as part of the application process,” the hiring manager said.
A test? Nobody had mentioned anything to me about a test! I sat down at the little desk and tried to hide my nerves.
Why, oh, why did I come to Tennessee? I thought. What made me think I would have any better luck here? What did I think would happen? What if—
Something on the desk caught my eye. A gold picture frame with a cancelled check inside. I looked more closely at it, at the signature at the bottom…Elvis Presley.
I stared at the hiring manager in shock. “Elvis fan?” he said. “Back in the day, Elvis bought a mobile home from this company.” I glanced at the check, then back at the test. I wasn’t nervous anymore. I belonged here. The King told me so.
I passed the test with flying colors. By evening the job was mine. I knew just how to celebrate. On Saturday, Pauline and I drove to Memphis. To the place where it all began. As our tour bus made it through the musical gates of Graceland, I said a prayer of thanks. To the real King.
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