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Aaron N. Tubbs

Dragon chaser.

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I wrote this in the hotel before I checked out, but after my in-room Internet abruptly expired an hour before checkout. I don’t really understand that, but whatever. I just got home, a bit after 3AM, which is much later than expected, but to a certain extent, entirely expected, being that involved me and travel.

Today is to be a long day, landing me back in Connecticut Monday morning. I wanted to sketch down a few scattered parting thoughts while they’re still roaming through my head. I think I’m meeting with the gang around noon for a parting lunch, and then heading to the airport for my afternoon departure. I’m hoping that I either have a different seat or different equipment on the way back, as on the way out I had no reading light, which made reading a painful experience (I still finished two books, but it gave me a headache).

I’m glad I visited Vegas. I’m more glad that I managed, if for only moments at a time, to escape. I can’t ignore reality forever, but I think the trip is roughly what I needed to prevent myself from completely losing it right now, and that’s pretty important. I’m not ready to go back “home,” but I don’t think I ever again will be.

I don’t know if I’ll visit again. It would definitely be more fun if I was sharing it with somebody with whom I were more intimate, as opposed to just going with a group of friends. While there are a lot of fun things to do for groups, I think it’s also a city well suited for couples. On the other hand, had I a nice room in a nice casino with a nice partner, I’m not sure there would be much in the way of incentives to actually leave the room. Either way, I’m not sure Vegas in specific offers me much over any other big continental city, and I still see more appeal in foreign travel. On the other hand, there’s something to be said for $100 flights and $50 rooms, which I can’t find at most places I’d want to visit.

I still can’t shake the inescapable cruise ship feeling, surrounded by the worst of humanity at pretty much every turn. I several times couldn’t shake the feeling, in a mob of people, that “this is what hell is like, surrounded by these folks for eternity.” I wanted to scream.

While for the most part everything I did was cheap there was very little I had that was particularly good. Having now tried gambling, I can say “hey, I’m not a gambler” and that’s fine with me. Having seen the strip I can say “meh, it’s like a really long thematic shopping mall, with hotels and casinos.” The casinos are huge, and there are more blinking lights and slot machines than I can really fathom. There’s really not much more to it than that. The super-special exhibits at most of the casinos are lackluster. The free drinks are watered down. The exotic shops and stores aren’t anything I can’t find in a lux northeast mall, and the prices aren’t any better. The Ferrari store made me laugh with its $60 t-shirts, and the exhibit (which I did not pay to see) looked little more impressive than a Ferrari showroom, and I have one of those down the street a few towns back home.

I put on weight while I was here. Even only eating one or two real meals a day, it’s very easy to do this. This is not a healthy city, with the abundant food and alcohol everywhere you look.

Propelling me into a fit of heavy drinking yesterday afternoon, I saw people that reminded me of myself a few years back, each in different ways. I wanted to go up to these people and tell them that it’s going to be fine, and everything is going to get better.

But, then, things don’t always get better, and sometimes these people lose. I wanted to tell them this too.

In my head, there’s this ant, carrying a stack of something or other. He keeps yelling for more weight, and everybody marvels at its impressive feats of strength. Look how it manages to keep everything together, even with more being thrown on top of him. In the end, it doesn’t matter. Even the mighty ant succumbs.

It was cool here, if not cold at times; in the shade I felt the need for a hoodie or stocking cap most days, and it got downright chilly at night, especially when there was a breeze. I know it’s not the hot season, but I was never once warm. Despite it being cool outside, the interior of every establishment is frightfully cold. I didn’t fully expect that, though I expect I’d have less issues with this in the summer proper.

I’m looking forward to being back in clean air again. I never considered myself to have an allergic reaction to smoking, though in the same token I never found it particularly pleasant. That said, my chest hurts and I have a hard time taking deep breaths, and the only explanation I can come up with is the prolonged exposure to copious amounts of second hand smoke. To be fair, the nicer establishments seemed to have better smoke evacuation systems, but everywhere you go is chock full of the stuff just the same. Despite being in a non-smoking room, even the unworn items I brought with me stink of smoke, and will require washing lest I want to smell like an ash tray.