May 18, 2024
Condé Nast Traveler

Faced With a Birthday Alone, I Took Myself to Graceland

But my gentle-hearted obsession with the King’s songs and movies took on new significance for me a several years afterwards, when my younger brother unexpectedly handed absent at age 6. He experienced shared my appreciate of Elvis, albeit to a slightly lesser degree, and we’d spent several evenings singing and dancing to “Burning Like.” In the wake of his dying, I identified myself achieving for Elvis’s songs in a new way. I afterwards realized that whenever I was faced with a challenge, I could change to Elvis to get me through. I played “Are You Lonesome Tonight?” on repeat just after my first heartbreak, and consider of my brother whenever I hear “Lord Almighty, sense my temperature rising” blaring by way of speakers.

Inside the living room at Graceland

Gabby Shacknai

A collection of The King’s hundreds of bedazzled jumpsuits

Gabby Shacknai

It appeared only fitting that I would request Elvis’s firm on this new cornerstone of adulthood. 

Flash ahead from a test-in at The Guest Home at Graceland, to a shuttle previous the estate’s famed gates loaded with messages for The King, and I was at Elvis’s entrance door in the dead of August—with a pair of headphones participating in an audio tour narrated by substantial Elvis lover John Stamos. 

I pushed earlier the overcrowded lobby, Stamos whispering into my ears, and commenced to soak up it all. In the living room, a lovely white grand piano flooded my imagination with photos of Elvis serenading his good friends and family. In the dining room, I observed Elvis and Priscilla’s marriage ceremony china, which nevertheless sits atop the table, right before passing the famed staircase to Elvis’s personal living quarters, which continue to be shut to visitors today as they ended up when he was alive. In the kitschy Jungle Room, with its eclectic, tropical furnishings motivated by Elvis’s time in Hawaii—like a built-in waterfall, and eco-friendly shag carpet on both the flooring and ceiling—I saw where the musician spent most of his time and even recorded the bulk of his very last two albums.

As I wandered by Graceland’s other structures, like the trophy setting up which homes infinite halls of Presley memorabilia, and the racquetball constructing, the place Elvis extra a custom court docket to the residence in 1975, I was in genuine awe. First, of the sheer spectacle of how this man lived, but also the immense pounds his everyday living carried for so lots of other folks. I wasn’t special in my unbridled enjoy of the guy. 

Although gawking at hundreds of bedazzled jumpsuits, and indulging in photo opps I’d usually deride—including an AR-run photograph booth that positioned me on Elvis’s legendary movie posters—I immediately befriended other people, some of whom were there for the 17th or 18th time.

By a stroke of luck, I was born a mere two days—and 19 years—after Elvis died, so likely to Graceland for my birthday also meant overlapping with Elvis Week, a celebration held each calendar year on the anniversary of his dying. As I entered the resort banquet place for the yearly Farewell Get together on the night of my birthday, feathers, sequins, and bright lights all about, I spotted a acquainted deal with from previously in the day: an Ohio woman named Tamara, who came to Elvis Week each and every year. I joined her for a hearty Southern meal and an animated general performance by an Elvis Tribute Artist, right before sojourning to the motion picture theater for a screening of “Viva Las Vegas.” As the group hooted and hollered when a young Elvis graced the huge display and sang together to his musical flirtations with Ann-Margret, I knew I was appropriate to occur to Graceland by yourself. I no for a longer period felt the absence of my family and friends I had absolutely uncovered my people, at the very least for the working day. 

I had also, for the initial time in a lengthy time, done a thing absolutely and utterly for myself. I didn’t appear to the people today in my lifetime to share my adore of Elvis or even affirm it, and I did not sense unhappy when they, inevitably, didn’t get it. 

I may have arrived in Memphis by itself, uncertain of what the day would maintain, and anxious that I’d built a terrible oversight, but I still left with a renewed sense of self—not to mention a number of Elvis t-shirts and some outrageous memento pics picked up together the way.