“Maybe it meant something. Maybe not, in the long run, but no explanation, no mix of words or music or memories can touch that sense of knowing that you were there and alive in that corner of time and the world. Whatever it meant.”
― Hunter S. Thompson, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
"Bees blew like cake-crumbs through the golden air, white butterflies like sugared wafers, and when it wasn't raining a diamond dust took over which veiled and yet magnified all things"
— Laurie Lee (Cider With Rosie (Vintage Classics))
I went to Vegas for Thanksgiving. If you're looking for salacious details of wild nights partying until dawn, you should probably skip to the next blog. This is not that kind of story. I brought two books with me to read on the long plane rides; Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and Cider with Rosie. The first seemed appropriate to the destination. The second was a recommended classic. The booze and drug fueled voyage depicted in Fear and Loathing proved too much for me to handle after only a few pages, so I was heading to Sin City on a plane reading a quaint historical account of life on a rural farm in the English Countryside. Picture me cozy in my window seat with my reading glasses perched on the bridge of my nose while the passengers in seats E and D got to know each other really well while drinking bourbon on the rocks and ended up joining the mile high club. This is true and a longer story for another date.
Anyway that's how my trip started. Then when I arrived in Vegas and took my seat on the hotel transport shuttle, the driver gave us a speech about what to expect that was more like a stand up routine. "Cousins, you can drink anywhere, have sex anywhere, smoke a doobie, but do not jaywalk," is how it began. See, that's the thing...Vegas is about excess. It's about pushing the limits and not following the rules.
Vegas is like a big playground for adults. While you are there, you are like a child without parental supervision. You can stay up as late as you want, drink and eat things you shouldn't, play games all day and night, and generally be irresponsible. What did I do? I basically stayed on east coast time, so I was in bed by 9pm and up at 4:30am. I limited my drinking, did a lot of walking, and cashed out if I started to lose money on the slot machines. The wildest thing I did was order room service and spend too much money on the spa inspired quinoa cereal with soy milk and fresh fruit. It was like the opposite of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas - Courage and Admiration in Las Vegas. And you know what? I had a really good time.
I don't believe you have to go to the extremes to enjoy yourself and create lasting memories. Think back to some of your favorite experiences. Were you drunk, risking your life, compromising your morals? I'm not trying to preach here. I like a glass or two of wine like most people. I just believe that happiness and satisfaction are available in the most common and average moments. If I believed in bucket lists, the type of thing I would add to my list would be more like playing an entire game of monopoly with my family rather than bungee jumping off the New River Gorge bridge, because the thrill and meaning of those extreme moments is short-lived and fleeting. Just the other day, I was filled with warmth remembering having dance parties with my kids in the living room when they were little. I also often recall being on a trip in Colorado and gazing up in awe at a sky full of stars. That memory is more meaningful than the horseback riding, snowshoeing, and cross country skiing we did there.
I loved my trip to Vegas. I never had a hangover. I did not experiment with drugs, hook up with a stranger, or do shots. I was exhilarated by all of the exciting sounds and sights which were so outside of my normal existence. In this setting full of glamour, tackiness, cigarette smoke, free drinks, extravagance, and vice, I was removed from all of my daily responsibilities and worries, and I found that refreshing. I rented a convertible and drove through the desert with the wind in my hair and then hiked solo through the forest and scrambled up rock formations to sit in complete silence and take in the landscape. I walked the entire strip pulling my suitcase. I sat in the casino at six in the morning sipping cappuccino and watching gamblers that had stayed up all night, I enjoyed winning $90 in a few minutes while bells and whistles sounded my victory. I ordered room service. I slept in a comfy bed that was made for me each day. I walked through lobbies of marble, columns and painted ceilings.
When I returned home, the energy I had gathered from being away remained with me, and I brought the enthusiasm into my work and relationships. Suddenly problems seemed surmountable. It was like I had the enthusiasm of a child again. Very early one morning on a run through the playground on the way to the greenway, I noticed the swings. Giving into a sudden urge, I sat down and pushed off, swinging as high as I could and I felt weightless and that will lead me to my next blog...
Viva Las Vegas!