Monday, November 22, 2010

My Vegas Circus Trapeze Act

In the Summer of 97' Paul Bunyan and I packed up his leased Nissan Pathfinder with a few essential items and set our compass West. I only really remember the wind in my hair. The music on the radio. The flat grassy places we would set up a tent on the free National Forest lands in the dark. And the majesty of the landscape we would open our tent flaps to in the morning.

See that Motel 8 in the background there? I remember walking out the door of that motel one morning and being mesmerized by the landscape that I looked out upon. A cement company's heaven.

It's been 13 years. It's still quite majestic. In some respects.

And rich with grandiosity.

And arrogance.

For 48 hours I lay suspended in many stratospheres. I walked the bridges that crossed socioeconomic classes.

Evidence of the divide was everywhere.

Where one casino can have caged lions, this one can only offer flamingos.

And giant goldfish.

But it's a classic. The Flamingo....sets itself apart by remaining so retro.

It hosts the Osmond's show.

And across the street Caesars houses Rod. And across the street from that the Paris has Barry Manilow too. I was introduced to these old men on my best friend Meredith's mother's 8 track. Circa 1979.

But I know Holly Madison across the street.

I feel my legs slipping out from underneath me in both directions.

I straddled the possibility of this:

Triple Diamond, Double Double Diamond, Triple Double Stars, Triple Cash! Ding Ding Ding....still ringing in my skin. I wanted to spend my loot. Think of what I could spend with the thousands I would win!!

I put a $20 bill in a slot machine. I cashed out at $32.50. I spent my $12.50 on a hot dog. A chili dog to be exact. My practicality seeped up through my sore feet. Money to be spent on the mortgage given right to the casino owners? Hardly a decision for me.

But I had one free pull to win a MILLION DOLLARS. I saw someone cross themselves before they pushed the spin button.

One push of the button could change your life forever. What if?

I'd go back to Paris. Take a hot air balloon over the city.

Pay the money to go to the top of the Eiffel Tower.

I'd pay for Claire and I to come back out and see Cirque du Soleil "O" again. I'd bring you along too. I may even purchase one of these statues for my garden. Or better yet, I'd feed all the hungry men and women on the bridges.

I'd buy art.

Or better yet, I'd feel more free to make it.

I hung from the trapeze swinging between this crazy world and mine:

I dangled from youth and forty. It's a tough place to hang.

But it was fun to revisit. We retold. Remembered. And at the same time, we heard birth stories for the first time. Wedding stories. Parent's tales. Kids' ways. Future dreams. Possible plans. We stopped for a moment between the then and the soon.

We played.

And giggled.

And howled.

And just for a moment.

We pretended to be back in Iowa City.

Drinking nickle beers at the Airliner.

And yet, we were in the desert.

On the early morning I left Vegas, I left behind the alcohol laced elevators, all the lights blinking and rolling and spinning like the minds of the drunk gamblers. I reflected on the 48 hour window that the universe allowed me to suspend myself in time. Between the past and future, between the rich and poor, between my youth and impending old age. I don't really know how a place can keep you from having reality reel you in. How the mortgage payment can evade you when you're there. How you're wrinkles and extra weight can disappear. How you can, just for a short time, pretend to be someone different. Someone with the chance to win big...even if you don't gamble.


  1. so i've never been to Vegas. not sure if i even want to go. i hate gambling. i hate prostitutes. and most of all, i hate neil diamond.

    i just don't know. but i'm glad to be back and i missed ya!

  2. Are you sure the guy in pink isn't Austin in drag????? Reminds me ALOT of the Santa costume he wore prior to plunging into a cold November pond.....

  3. Great pics as always MG! Glad to hear you behaved ;)