When my friend invited me to join her in Las Vegas, deep in the middle of NJ’s strictest Covid-lockdown, I never thought we would REALLY get there. But eventually, we were boarding a plane.
I am a nervous traveler. I dislike flying and every part of going on a trip without my family, including self-imposed guilt, was hard. I refer to my house as ‘The Vortex’ because of the strong, centripetal force that keeps me firmly circling a tight track of repetitive, domestic tasks and complicated family living.
I had to convince my brain early in the trip that I was not, in fact, responsible for a very large group of people. Eating. travelling, and just about everything, became instantly simple and easy. ‘Simple’ and ‘Easy’ are two words that never describe any part of my family.
You want go? Go.
You don’t feel like eating? No problem.
No tables in a restaurant? Sit at the bar. Easy Peasy.
Want to drink coffee and play $20 of penny slots at 8 a.m.? Go ahead.
It is Vegas after all.
I was walking in very foreign land in every sense of the word. I am not well-travelled and this was the ‘westest’ I have been in the country, so far. I found the desert extremely appealing and strange. There wasn’t a day under 100 during my 6 days there and I loved the feeling of baking in the sunshine. I am unaccustomed to relaxing poolside, attending rooftop parties, exciting and challenging solo hikes in the Mojave Desert and eating in Michelin-starred restaurants. How about the zippy little Rav-4 with Sirius radio I rented? Nothing like my lumbering Sienna with zip ties on the front bumper.
Quite frankly, the vacation lifestyle could not have been farther from my normal daily experiences. The lack of cooking and cleaning itself freed up countless hours and mental space. Oh, the mental space! My brain morphed from a hamster-on-a-wheel-that-keeps-turning-way-to-fast-and-tipping-ass-over-head to something like a leisurely peacock meandering through the botanical gardens. I’ve seen one. It looked very relaxed.
As soon as Dennis dropped me off at the airport I want from a mom with a ridiculous amount of responsibilities and enough chaos for a small country to a Vegas tourist with time & money to burn. As much as it was crazy-fun it was shockingly eye opening.
Like the frog in the beaker. I do not always know just how hot the water is and how tight my margins are. Having more space and time and less (no) responsibilities provided a birds-eye view of things that are missing from my regular life.
I did exciting things that made my knees weak and my palms sweaty and my heart race. Hard to remember that last time I felt that amount of adrenaline. I laid on my hotel bed in the middle of the day. Wandered streets because I wanted to see what was on them. Played pinball alone.
I felt like me, but the alternate universe version of me. And it all made me think. I’ve spent the days after my trip pondering whether I could introduce the two versions of myself to one another.
I think the Vegas version of me may have stayed in Vegas.
Too bad. Regular me would probably really like her.