Many don’t know this about me, but I spent a lot of time in Las Vegas as a child.
I used to think it was because my parents got married in Las Vegas in the early 1970s and that they brought us there whenever they felt nostalgic for the idyllic honeymoon days of their youth. As I have gotten older, I have come to realize that my parents came here for many reasons. They sometimes brought the family here on those unbearable days where they wanted to escape whatever life challenges they faced. The highs felt whenever they made small monetary wins (which they did often) were enough to help them place their life’s troubles on hold before having to return home to deal with the true realities of life. Other reasons were more celebratory, such as the few wedding ceremonies of close family and friends, or to show visiting out-of-country relatives all that Las Vegas can offer in terms of entertainment, gambling, lights, etc.
My parents eventually invested in a vacation home in Las Vegas long after their kids have grown and long after the now seemingly insignificant events that once overwhelmed them have long been dealt with. My brother also decided to call Las Vegas home eight years ago in his attempts to initiate an adult “do over”. So far, he has found himself in Las Vegas, wherein he was able to settle into the life of the Nevada local, even marrying a Las Vegas native and reinventing his professional endeavors to include his lifelong passion for automobiles.
I, however, still see Las Vegas as a vacation destination place. It wouldn’t be the first place I would select whenever it came time for an out-of-state adventure. Alongside many metropolis centers, technology and modernization of the Las Vegas infrastructure and tourists sights slowly chipped away at the lights and shimmer of the Las Vegas of my youth. The closures of the classic hotel resorts and casinos of old — Stardust, Sahara, Aladdin, Dunes and Hacienda — as well the remodeling, or the reimagining of, the likes of Circus, Circus Casino and the Flamingo, erased any nostalgic feeling to want to visit this fun place.
Downtown Las Vegas is the only holdout of the Las Vegas of old; however, the idea of this romantic Las Vegas, in my mind, just was not enough for me to temporarily want to feel a transformative emotion of escape to the world of whatever it is people look for whenever they go to Las Vegas. I can’t really put my finger on it as there really is nothing “wrong” with Las Vegas. I simply realized that other easy ways to decompress from my day-to-day worries was within reach (spending time with friends and loved ones, enjoying art, exploring my local stomping grounds, etc.), and that I had no emotional ties to Sin City.
It took the death of a loved one to bring me back to Las Vegas.
While one can easily become distracted while in Las Vegas, McKay was always on my mind. Everything seemed insignificant because I was preoccupied with the anticipation of seeing her one last time before her passing, as well as the preparation for witnessing her burial and all that encompasses, in the weeks following McKay’s death.
I was forced to quietly deal with my personal thoughts and feelings of McKay’s absence alongside our family’s whereabouts during our two Las Vegas visits because I have since become a mother and had to keep my wits together. The children were in awe of everything here, so while my kids inquired about why the artwork of shiny balls were hanging from the ceiling, or whether we can find time to ride the fantastic roller coaster before bedtime, or whether we can indulge in some French pastries because they were hungry, my selfish desires to want to lock myself in the hotel room so that I may collapse in a heap of bumbling flesh were put on hold.
I had to push through.
It is amazing how the will and desire for worldly exploration of a child, let alone two — yes, even in Las Vegas — can change a person. Eventually, I was able to let go of my sadness — in short spurts — enough so that I could share in the experience whatever the mundane, wonderful or fantastic “(fill in the blank)” the Casinos had in store for us.
Please enjoy my photo diary of our collective Las Vegas casino finds not having to do with gambling. Las Vegas indeed has anything and everything interesting worth seeing.
Paris Las Vegas
3655 South Las Vegas Boulevard
Las Vegas, NV 89109
Gold Strike Jean Hotel & Casino
1 Main Street
Jean, NV 89019
3545 South Las Vegas Boulevard
Las Vegas, NV 89109
KISS by Monster Mini Golf
Rio All-Suites Hotel and Casino
3700 West Flamingo Road
Las Vegas, NV 89103
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