I’m writing this on the observation deck on a train taking me from Memphis to New Orleans (but posting it after I’ve arrived). The landscape outside the many windows is magical. I guess just imagine the Deep South as it’s portrayed in movies. Both the good and the bad sides of it. We just passed Jackson, Mississippi. When planning this trip I thought about maybe making a stop in Jackson or somewhere else between blues and jazz. But everyone said go straight to New Orleans. I asked about 15 people. No one thought I should do a stop in between, not even a girl from Jackson. The little of it I saw from the train station didn’t make me wanna hop off the train.
Jumping on the Amtrak to New Orleans at 6.30 in the morning.
So my days in Memphis have come to an end. They have been more relaxed than many of my days on this trip and I really needed that. For example I’ve sat down in a couch, played video games and watched movies. Sometimes little things like that mean a lot. Of course I did sightseeing as well. I visited the death places of two kings. Elvis Presley’s Graceland and the Lorraine Motel where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was shot to death. The motel is a museum about civil rights in America from slavery until today. Visiting the South it felt important to learn some about it’s history. Which isn’t all too pretty. Both Graceland and the Civil Rights Centre made me cry. That means I’ve cried at three museums in America. (First one was in NY where I cried about a tortoise.) I don’t think I’ve ever cried at museums before. But I always have had very easy to cry. I have cried to Americas Next Top Model. But I’m not writing that to try to make my experiences with dead kings and tortoises less powerful.
A sad looking man dressed up as Elvis with his wife at Graceland.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was shot on the balcony in front of room 306 at the Lorraine Motel where he stayed while visiting Memphis. Two cars of these models were parked in front of the motel when he was killed.
The Lorraine from a further distance.
I have also played roller derby of course, and stayed with derby people, and skated and stuff like that.
Skated the Green Line with Nora on the Saturday, in total 15 miles or 24 kilometres. My legs hurt afterwards.
Derby Sunday School with some of the Memphis skaters. This week I’ve skated in total 21 miles (34 km), done laps at practice with Nashville Roller Girls, Scrimmaged with Memphis Roller Derby and jumped up and down these bleachers. I don’t feel very fit though. But the guy who checked my bags at the train in Memphis on the Monday morning told me he was surprised how heavy my bags were because I lifted them with such ease.
For those of you who don’t know so much about the roller derby community I’ll try to give a short introduction. It’s more open towards queer, gay and transgender people than society at large. That means that the percentage of these people are higher within roller derby than in society at large. And my theory is that people belonging to minorities like that are friendlier than the average straight, white middle class person (like me). Simply because they have faced prejudices more than other people. I know this might be a prejudice in itself but the large majority of people hosting me on this trip have been lesbian couples. That must mean that lesbians are friendlier? (No offense to my straight hosts, who all have been delightful as well). If writing this is offensive, please tell, because that is not what I’m trying to be.
Anyways… I wanted this to be about the way society looks at gay people, but also women in the South. During the week I was in Tennessee there was an election that made abortions illegal. Men have been catcalling me as if I they believe my purpose as a human being is pleasuring their eyes. When I walked down the river walk along Mississippi River with my host Brooken Bones two young boys (probably brothers), around five years old walked by us. The younger one tried to hold the older ones hand. The older one said to him: ”what are you doing? I’m not gay”. Someone taught this little boy that he can’t hold his brothers hand because ”it’s gay”! And as you can guess marriage equality doesn’t exist here.
Bones on our river walk along the Mississippi river.
The sun sets over the Mississippi river and Arkansas.
I am still enjoying The South, because if you hang around the right people you don’t have to see all of the narrowmindedness. But of course every now and then I’ve been reminded about the dark past of these places, slavery, genocide of indigenous people and so on.
We went to a birthday party on the Saturday. One of the Memphis skaters turned 30. At there party there was a keg and red plastic cups. I love when things are like in movies. It makes me feel like I’m the lead role in a cool road movie. At the party I talked to a guy who knew so much about European politics (Europe also has dark history). This was the first person in a month that I’ve met that actually was interested in Europe in that way. He knew even knew about the Sweden democrats (Sverigedemokraterna) being the third biggest party in Sweden and that they basically are nazis. I think he even knew the percentage they got in the election. When I asked him why he knew so much about European politics his answer was ”I’m basically a commie”.
The conversation left Europe and we started talking about guns. In Tennessee you’re apparently allowed to carry a gun everywhere if you have a permit. So at the venue where Memphis Roller Derby practices there is a sign saying no guns allowed. Even though I’m happy they weren’t allowed it makes me a bit uneasy since the sign means this is an exception.
It turns out euro-lover-basically-commie guy was also a gun lover. I felt both frightened and intrigued by this and almost made him take me to a shooting range so I could try shoot a gun. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a gun that wasn’t on a policeman. But then he said that before he shoot he’s always nervous it was going to blow up in his face. After that I didn’t want to shoot so much anymore.
Until I write again.
Lots of love, your Vulvo
Ps. someone asked me about more photos, but it’s really a hassle getting them up on the blog, so I have to ask you to visit http://instagram.com/snagge
for that. Instagram is so much easier to use on the go. And Facebook albums feel so 2008. When I go back home I might do a real photo album and then y’all (as they say in the south) can come visit for coffee and a look in my real album.