next stop: vegas. i am going to play nickel slots and drink free gin & tonics and flirt with cowboys. or maybe i will play babysitter to my little cousins, buy them ice cream cones and win them stuffed teddy bears. if i hit the jackpot, i will become a lady of leisure and perfect the recipe for strawberry pie.
las vegas has been a strange backdrop to my life. my family would abandon me in hotel lobbies, with the promise of “ten more minutes” hanging above my head. 10 minutes became 20 became an hour became two hours and i would be left there, scrawny brown girl with thick glasses and ink black hair, sinking into plush cushions, making up stories about the people passing by. the almighty dollar whispered sweet nothings into my parents’ ears and they could not resist.
vegas also reminds me of my grandfather because, god, he really loved that place. his snail’s pace always turned turbo when we were nearing a casino and his face lit up to match the marquees’ flashing bulbs. one night, he snuck out of our hotel room at 4 in the morning and my parents woke up the next day wondering where the hell he was. panic struck, and everyone split up and searched for him.we finally found him, sitting content in a corner, feeding a slot machine with quarters.
i was in vegas when he was buried, and i haven’t been since.
i have been to a wedding in vegas, witness to elvis enthusiasm and drive-through love.
once, i kissed a boy by the ice machine of our hotel, lips locked and eyes closed and ice overflowing from the bucket, like a slot machine jackpot.
clink. clank. clunk.