The Road To GRL – Part 1
Six years ago, Mr. Temple and I came to Las Vegas to see good friends get married. We flew in on a Friday night, taking the last non-stop flight from Toronto. We were supposed to land around 10 pm, but a sick passenger and several delays later, we checked into our hotel at midnight. We were tired, but felt like we should celebrate, so we went to the lobby bar and had a cocktail. As we settled into bed sometime around 1 am (that would be 4 am Toronto time) I whispered to Mr. Temple “if jet lag wakes you up in four hours, don’t wake me up.”
The next thing I heard was a whispered voice.
“Are you awake?”
“What time is it?”
We weren’t married at the time, but the way I felt in that moment, it’s a miracle we got down the aisle at all.
Several hours later, we took a stroll of the strip. It was surreal. It was still early, but already the mid-August sun was trying to bake us into the pavement. I suddenly had a deeper appreciation for old Clint Eastwood movies, where the hero gets knocked off his horse and nearly gets incinerated by the relentless desert sun before he is found by a kind-hearted nun with a water canteen.
Also, at some point, we found ourselves following a man dressed in slippers and a satin leopard print robe through Caesars Palace. It was not a costume.
Needless to say, Las Vegas is a bubble. The setting is so picturesque, the flat desert plain surrounded by mountains. But under the dome is this endless playground for adults. If you’ve never been here, you can still conjure up the sparkling lights, the twinkling joy of the Bellagio fountains (thank you, Oceans Eleven). But until you’ve been here, you can’t understand the frantic cacophony of the casinos, under the manufactured elegance of cherubic frescoes. The celebrity chef restaurants, where the couple in their best evening wear sits at the table next to the twenty-something dude-bros who can’t be bothered to take off their ball caps as they dine on roasted bone marrow and line-caught cod flown in just this morning from Alaska.
I mention all of this because we’re back again, six years later. We’ll be road tripping over the next week as I make my way to the GRL Retreat in Denver. We’ll spend the first few days in Vegas, drowning ourselves in food and sex (mostly food, but we do have tickets for a burlesque show tomorrow which I’m very much looking forward to). Then we’re going to slow things down with…well, I’ll explain when we get there.
So far, we have doused ourselves in bourbon and southern comfort food. We are staying in a hotel room bigger than my first apartment (and also, unlike my first apartment, one assumes, with functioning electrical outlets in the bathroom….don’t ask), and are staring down at the four pools this casino resort boasts which might welcome us tomorrow. I have a short story to edit, and why not do it poolside with a beverage?
We are also here two weeks after America’s latest mass shooting. I have to admit that while we put on brave faces when people asked us if we were worried (the safest time to fly is right after a plane crash, right?), I did feel a small twinge of panic as I looked out at the Mandalay Bay from our airplane this afternoon. I don’t understand or support American gun culture, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a gun toting terrorist in the next room over. I thought about not getting off the plane, but that’s not really an option is it? So I pulled up my big girl pants and got off the plane. We can’t live in fear, but I admit I was happy to see the security guards at the entrance to the hotel, checking every car that pulled onto the property. I’ll sleep better tonight know they’re there. But that might also be the bourbon…
Until tomorrow then, where we will undoubtedly find something even more surreal than a man in a leopard print bathrobe to occupy ourselves.
From the desert,