I arrived in this city on 2.6.12 after a harrowingly long cross-country journey which involved seeing deer staring at me on the side of the road in the Ozarks’s pitch black darkness, stopping for imperative naps in a rest area/at the entrance to an Indian reservation/just slap-dab on the side of the road, and two nights in hotel rooms where I got about four hours of sound sleep both nights. The day after I arrived in lovely Las Vegas–on 2.7.12–I had an interview with the Bellagio front office manager. (I’d post the picture of me in the Bellagio conservatory right before my interview, but it’s such a testament to what godawful, grainy photos old cell phones took that I won’t subject anyone to it again.) A month passed before I finally got a job, after several interviews. I’m thankful for the job I have–hours I’m accustomed to, set days off, and good benefits–but here I am a year later not outrageously overjoyed to find myself where I’m currently at in my life. On the verge of turning 33, I feel like I’ve left ho-hum, suburban Atlanta for the ho-hum, day-to-day desert life of Las Vegas. It’s not a bad life; in fact, I’m very happy most days. I have a wonderful living arrangement–how can three single people live in the same house and barely run across one another? I like my little hotel; it’s not fancy or big like Bellagio, but I have my run of the place when I work, and plenty of free time to do as I please on my overnight shift. So I shan’t complain. No really, I won’t.
For those who’ve never had the experience of moving 2000+ miles away, I’ll say this: I’ve come to realize in the last year that so many of the identifying traits I defined myself by for 32 years don’t really matter so much to other people. I defined myself by my family, my hometown, my high school and college, and even more personal traits like dealing with depression and alcoholism. The funny thing about when one moves so far away is that not only can one easily get a fresh start, but no one knows enough about the particulars of your origin and/or backstory to judge you. Most anyone in the AA meetings I’ve attended is not a Las Vegas native; no one’s there to question anyone else’s upbringing, family history, or past mistakes. The same could honestly be said of anyone I work with; of the 20 or so employees at my hotel, only a couple are Las Vegas natives. We all come from very different places with unique backgrounds–it’s a very moot point to know particulars of each other’s upbringings. I’m not sure how much that applies to workplaces in small towns, such as the one I’m from. It’s a perspective one only gets when they move far, far away, I suppose.
Where am I going with all this? Good question…perhaps Las Vegas is unique in that most people who live here aren’t from here or anywhere near here. It’s a melting pot where I can attend a Methodist church and be in the same sanctuary with Asian, black, Hispanic, and white members; that’s something I would’ve never experienced back in Georgia. The gift of joining such a diverse church is something that–subconsciously or not–will mold me and shape me for the rest of my life. Yet another reason I’m glad I put myself in a situation quite unlike anything I’d experienced up until this point in my life. We live and we learn, and I learn best by experiences. And mistakes, of course.
So yes, being a resident of Neh-vaad-ah for a year has taught me much. I’m still very, very much a proud Georgian: I absentee vote in my hometown and have managed to hold on to my Georgia driver’s license (which enabled said voting, thankfully). I won’t live in the desert forever; who knows where I’ll even be blogging my meandering thoughts from a year from now. I don’t know, and I’m not sure I’d want to know right this minute, though it would indeed make things easier. In the words of Marnie from last Sunday’s episode of Girls,
“I don’t know what the next year of my life is gonna be like at all. I don’t even know what the next week of my life is gonna be like. I don’t know what I want. Sometimes I just wish someone would tell me, like, this is how you should spend your days. And this is how the rest of your life should look.”
Guess what, Marnie? That’s not the way life works. But don’t worry, I’ll remind you of that in precisely 367 days. Better yet, you’ll remind yourself of that fact.