We set off from our desert camp on the moon-like terrain of Lake Mead at 5am. It was hard to leave the calm of that place, the depth of the sky, the comfort of my best friend. But she had to get home to Boston for an interview and I was off to Vietnam. We had spent a blissful week together exploring the wilderness of Utah, Arizona, and Nevada, striking a perfect balance between being mountain women, as we liked to call ourselves, and allowing ourselves a reprieve from the wilderness, taking cat naps in the car and occasionally indulging in restaurants instead of our propane torch meals and seemingly endless supply of oreos. We hiked until our bodies hurt, our senses straining to fully take in the vast and wild beauty as we sat on mountain tops, always failing, because it’s impossible to wrap your head around landscapes that boundless. Zion, with its towering walls and hanging gardens, endless switchbacks and paths with 1000 foot drop offs on either side.
Bryce, with its countless hoodoos and cliffside pines, meandering trails with infinite views. The grand canyon, its depths more blue than red as they stretched out into the distance, colored by haze. We roasted sweet potatoes and banana boats by the fire, the coyotes howling into the night. This was freedom.
I went to print my boarding pass for vietnam at the airport and the machine informed me that there was an issue. I waited anxiously in line at the counter. The man asked me to see my visa confirmation letter. My stomach dropped out of my butt. What? I stammered, stupidly. My mind was racing, I thought I could get a visa at the airport upon arrival, in Saigon, I managed. He looked at me with true sympathy, he made some calls, there was no way around it. The visa request would take three days to go through. I was stuck in purgatory, here in Las Vegas. My flight was gone. I felt sick and furious at myself for overlooking something so crucial. It was the mistake of an entitled American, which I hated the most of anything.
After some time, I dredged myself out of the ocean of negativity I was drowning in. Water under the bridge. Time to figure it out. The cheapest flights to Saigon were out of Vancouver, I’d hang out there until my visa cleared. But in the mean time, one of my good friends from Cali drove out to Vegas to hang out with me and turn my mood around. I couldn’t believe it when she told me she was on her way-the gratitude I felt was unreal. When she drove up to the house, she told me to tell her that she was the best, a smirk on her face. Of course, I smiled,I can’t thank you enough for coming. No, I got us into Zedd tonight she said. I screamed, we hugged, we laughed, we caught up. It had been all of two weeks since I’d seen her and I missed her already. We walked along the strip, my first time, the hairs on my arms sensing the electricity coursing through the air.
Spontaneous nights like that always have a certain magic about them. After a rough start due to our unawareness of the bougey vegas dress code, and our shock at the $20 shots, we made our way out on to the crowded dance floor where everyone awaited Zedd. Over the thundering music, and despite the ever undulating crowd, we found ourselves talking to two men. They liked my hair. I liked their tattoos. They had a table and bottle service. They invited us back. I had an inkling then that they were cool, but my friend and I still locked eyes when they asked us to come with them. To go or not to go? Come, they urged. I don’t usually do such things, but based on gut feeling we conceded. And thank our lucky stars we did. What a night. It finally felt like I was in vegas. We danced and drank and laughed and talked the night away, chemistry and new friendships, fueled by the pulsing music and limitlessness of the night. We promised we’d see them again the next day, with every intention of doing so, but couldn’t seem to tear ourselves away from the sun-drenched pool or the comfort of our bed. Junk food and a scary movie on a Friday in Las Vegas. Maybe we’re lame. I think it’s great.
The next day I sadly hugged her good bye. How different this time in Vegas had been from what I anticipated when I stood deflated at the airport without a visa in my hand. Conclusion: I have the best friends, friends who camp with me in wilderness as well as friends who dance with me inside the bougey clubs of Vegas. Old friends who are now family and new friends who surprise me with how quickly two human beings can become close to one another. Guess I am #blessed 😉 on to Vancouver.