“Have you ever noticed that the people who work in Las Vegas are some of the saddest looking people you’ll ever see?”
Dad wasn’t trying to be snarky, critical or sarcastic. It was an observation he shared with me but at the time I am not sure I really understood it.
He had just returned from attending a trade show and we were catching up on life. I was 24 or 25 and living in my first apartment and Vegas wasn’t anything in my eyes but a good time.
During college the boys and I sometimes would do turn around trips. Four or five of us would hop in a car and five hours later find a room on the strip.Â Gas was less than a buck and during the week you could find a room for about $50 bucks a night, split it all four ways and it was cheap.
Most of the time the room really wasn’t for sleeping. It was a place to grab a shower and to bullshit with each other about the women we were certain to meet and or pickup.
I remember a few quiet moments inside the room, away from the bells and whistles where I’d enjoy the quiet and think about how good life was. It was fun and all I could see was us on some sort of golden road upon which we would just keep going.
It was before the funerals, divorces and darker days that life would share with us. Nobody talked about how their wives had stopped sleeping with them because she was angry about something that he couldn’t figure out because they didn’t talk anymore.
Nah, back then if the fellas talked about the woman who they would eventually marry you’d get a wink a smile about how she was wearing him out in a good way, the best way.
The mix of guys wasn’t always the same. Sometimes there would be some of the guys who had gone off to Iraq but it was talked about differently then.
They had flown in and rolled right over Saddam and his crew. Kicked their asses, beat them down and made them submit because it was the right thing to do and no one questioned it.
It was a different time.
The Cold War was over, the Berlin Wall had fallen down and we knew that we were on the golden road to fame and fortune.
Ten Days In Las Vegas
Five or so years later I am in Vegas again but it is different this time.
I am not with the boys because I am here for a trade show. My wife is back home and I am staring out the hotel window looking at the lights.
In the time that has passed some of the guys have gotten married and divorced and a few have died. Didn’t die in accidents but from terminal illnesses that came from nowhere and took them from us just as quickly.
And because my eyes have been opened I see things differently. Now I see what was my dad was talking about but I don’t quite understand it in the way that I will in a few years.
That is because I don’t have children yet so I don’t understand how dramatic the change is and how you focus your attention on trying to provide and care for them. When you become a parent you learn about love in a way you never knew before.
Was it A Year Or A Day?
More time has passed and it is easy to ask if it was only a year or a day. I am a father now and my children have experienced the entire cycle of life with me.
They have been to weddings and funerals, experienced the joy of welcoming babies to the world and have seen more than they know. We have talked about life, the excuses we make and lessons for being human.
They know that life doesn’t have to make sense and that some crazy things happen. I think they have seen and experienced more than I had at their age.
I think they have lived more than I did but that isn’t a bad thing. I am not saying their innocence has been shattered or stolen because it is not accurate.
Because I also know they have seen that hard times don’t last and that when you work hard good things come to you. They have seen when you persevere things turn and that has proven to them that opportunity is always there.
And that makes me happier than I can say.