Sin City: Beyond the Lights

It’s all laid out for the whole world to see: the glamour, the lights, the luxury, the excess, the money, the spectacles. I’ve been to Las Vegas more than a dozen times. I’ve stayed in beautiful hotels that smell like perfume. I’ve spent many nights fed by the dancing beats and gave myself to the music. I’ve walked the hot streets on Vegas, tall blended martinis melting in my themed container. I’ve seen amazing shows; full of illusion and drama and song and dance.

But this time around, I saw Las Vegas’ sweat, dirt, and waste.

I lived there for reasons less interesting than any. I worked at a restaurant at Caesar’s Palace and sure, that led to the acquaintance of some fascinating people. People who’s past and future is anyone’s guess. Vegas does that to you. In the middle of the scorched desert, the city is a not a refuge but it is a getaway. A place where most people leave the lives they had to have a few moments of insanity, of overindulgence, of insurmountable risks. What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas. Remember?

The bright, flashing neon lights of the infamous strip was the background to the darkness I felt I saw during my time there. The homeless are found all over. On bridges, on walkways, curled up and hiding from the sun underneath the weak shades of some tall bushes. The streets litter with calling cards of escorts, and I saw the drunks, shamelessly parading up and down Las Vegas Boulevard.

I’m sure I could have seen the better side of Vegas more prominently but I was in a bad place in my head. So, all I saw was that. I see the families, wrecked by obesity or starved by hunger; in the city designed to bring out your worst. A city that takes your weakest points and exploits it. A city known for restaurants that allows you to fill your belly until it aches for $10. A city with a ‘payday loan’ at every corner; all they want is feed your gambling addiction. Money is dispensed recklessly and in joyous amounts, and so the homeless population grows. The gambling addicts’ numbers surge.

Maybe because I didn’t live in the nice, sprawling suburbs loaded with ticky-tacky boxes, but in a moblie home community so all I saw was poverty and painful truth of time in the faces of the ‘retired.’

But the world is generous, and beyond the city limits the mountains stand tall and majestic. Mountains that burn red with the sunset, the desert can be gorgeous. Too bad the world only comes here for everything but the nature. They come to play; to play until they tire.

Maybe that’s why I didn’t love it, couldn’t love it there. Vegas holds a certain meaning to me: Indulge!!! That’s what the city screams in every corner. There’s drugs, there’s alcohol, and sex. 24 hours, 8days a week. Who does that, and stays sane? Tyrion Lannister said it best: “It’s not easy being drunk all the time.” Best of all no one here will judge you for it, no one can judge you for it; so sin away!

I think I’ll take my sinning in smaller doses. I’m sorry Vegas, we just weren’t meant to be.

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