It started in the booth of an Applebee’s restaurant on 28th street. On the wall above our table loomed a frame encapsulating the renowned, illustrious face of Elvis Presley. Five-year-old me peered up at the photo—kickstarting my obsession with the musician in his prime—from nearly forty-five years before I was born.
As time passed, I found myself yearning to admire the frame which held my idol. My parents would go out of their way to specifically dine in at that exact Applebee’s booth so I could have dinner beside Mr. Presley. But it didn’t stop there.
The first day of kindergarten rolled around, so with my bobbed hair and bangs, I hopped up the steps of the school bus with my backpack decorated by the face of Elvis. Months later, on my sixth birthday, I naturally had an Elvis-themed party, as a regular child born in the 2000s would do. My parents rented out a studio plus an additional room in an arts center for this celebration to take place. There were Elvis themed crafts and dances—choreographed courtesy of my mother. My relatives of all ages and even fellow classmates attended, showing me support on my big day, featuring my strange passion.
Within those wild years of youth, I had racked up a sick collection of Elvis memorabilia and nicknacks, further proving my love. The constant comments and questions I received about my Elvis-themed belongings didn’t even faze me at one point. Obviously, I was a pretty weird kid, but I always had a smile stretched across my face, begged to listen to any song by Elvis, and danced around to even the clap of two hands.
As time passes, I wish I still had the confidence and carefree nature of my six-year-old self. I openly expressed my thoughts and emotions, and truly danced like no one was watching–even though they were. I lived free and loved Elvis, as simple as that.
Now, at sixteen, my focus is centered on homework and due dates and whatever dilemma I experience on the daily. I sleep too little, stress too much, and lack the self-love that used to flourish in my being.
As the King of Rock and Roll once sang, “We can’t build our dreams on suspicious minds,” meaning that hopes and dreams will not transpire if there are doubts present. My present self needs to really listen to this lyric, and bring back the whimsy from my childhood. I need to obligate myself to the mind space of Elvis, as well as six-year-old me.
I have, since then, outgrown my profound devotion to Elvis and developed new musical interests, especially confirmed by my 2020 Spotify Wrapped. But I honestly owe it to him—he added a prospect of joy, positivity, and artistry into my childhood that catapulted the development of who I am today. I most likely would have had a different experience or outlook on life if I had never taken interest in him. I presumably wouldn’t have as much love for music, art, and dancing if it weren’t for his songs and personality.
Most of us, especially teens, are so caught up in our own worlds, feeling the perpetual cycle of anxiety and strain taking a toll on our mental health. Our optimism fades as the minutes do, and we oversee the blessings hinted at us. So we should express the inner child that once thrived through unusual hobbies and passions. Feel the elation and past love take rein, and don’t let go.
Even though a decade has passed since my Elvis Presley phase, I still commemorate it for the pure happiness and inspiration it brought me. Mr. Presley’s energetic and harmonious presence still surrounds me every day, figuratively and literally, proved by his face stamped on a mug that I drink out of almost every night.
Thank you, Elvis, thank you very much.