Under Vegas Lights

Vegas is many things.  There’s gambling, sure but there is also the glitz and glamour of  the enormous hotels, casinos, shows and the miles and miles of high end retail stores.  But for a writer like me, who is not big on gambling, it’s a sensory overload and huge source of inspiration. 

I’ve been to Vegas a couple times before and as I packed my bags for this most recent trip -accompanying my husband who had a conference there – I was not looking forward to hitting it big on the slots but to having some time away from the day to day distractions so that I could write.  I set goals for myself and while I didn’t reach those goals, I did manage to get some writing done and come away with something more. 

As we hit the airport for a long trip there due to a lengthy layover in Denver, I decided that I would do a blog post about my trip.  I’m an observer and people watcher by nature and what better fuel for inspiration than a crowded airport.  

When we approached our gate in Denver, I couldn’t help but smile when the sign at our gate read “Reno”, which is the name of a character in my good friend Jas T. Ward’s Shadow Keeper Series. But my observations and the questions they raised didn’t end there.  It was announced that our flight had not only been delayed but also moved to another gate.  I wondered what caused the change and what caused the delay.  Mechanical problems?  Bad weather in another city?  Something else?

We made the trek to the new gate and our wait continued.  I got as comfortable as I could in the waiting area, choosing a seat with at least one seat buffer between me and another person, plugging in my phone to charge and pulling out a book.  It seemed to go by fast enough and when they announced it was time to board, I collected my things and looked over, noticing a guy sunk down in his seat, a well worn baseball cap pulled down low over his eyes and his mouth hanging slightly open.  He was out cold.  I briefly wondered if I should wake him as the rustle of passengers near him didn’t seem to disturb his sleep.  I didn’t.  Though maybe I should have because I wondered if he missed his flight.  

We proceeded to line up near the numbered posts by the Southwest gate and I watched as people asked what boarding number they had or peered over the shoulders of others to get a peek at their boarding pass to ensure all were adhering to the honor system that seemed to be in place to board the plane in numerical order. 

The flight went by fairly quickly since I was able to sleep through most of it.  And when we got checked in and settled into our room at the hotel, it was well after midnight or 3 am east coast time.  In spite of being exhausted we did decide to make a quick loop to check out our new home for the week.  But by the time we went back to the room, I just wanted sleep.  

The next day arrived when I blinked open my eyes not more than 3 hours later. Sleep while traveling always evades me.

I quickly discovered that the time my husband was going to be off in meetings was less than first anticipated.  Between that, maid service interruptions and the need to get ready for social functions associated with this conference, my writing time was greatly impacted.  A small frustration since I had set goals but as I look back at the trip, I realize that I did come back with more than a few extra dollars in my pocket.  Over the week, through winning, losing, walking around doing the tourist thing and through people I’d met or encountered in the elevator, restaurants or on the street, I gathered inspiration for future writing:

The guy sleeping at the airport

The chat had with the staff closing up at the smokers lounge in the Denver airport.

The maid we had all week who was so friendly, you couldn’t help but smile.

The young, good looking, suit wearing guy – I’ve labeled him Christian Grey or Gideon Cross. Yes, that is who he reminded me of – who joked with me in the elevator about the elevator choosing to ignore my repeated attempts to press the button for my floor.   

The woman from Israel who -again I met in the elevator- and was so friendly, excited to be there and seemed to want to fit as much conversation into the brief ride up as possible. 

The couple tiredly toting their suitcases into – yes, you guessed it, the elevator – our last night there.  They had just arrived and I thought that they looked as exhausted as we felt that first night. 

The man pushing a woman in a wheelchair into the elevator; the woman with drink in hand. Turns out she hurt herself stumbling off some steps.  But by the smiles on their faces, they weren’t going to allow that to slow them down. 

The flustered dealer at the roulette table who was handing out the wrong winnings.  To another player, thankfully. I double checked. 

The loud non stop talking guy at the table next to us at a buffet who spent his entire meal talking to his friends about how good he was at his job. Anybody looking for a good fabricator, I now know a guy…

The many people who dressed up as Star Wars characters, Hello Kitty, Pee Wee Herman, Show Girls or Spartan warriors who lined the streets waiting for people to ask to pose for pictures with them. 

The guy holding a sign that read “Kick me in the nuts for $20”. Proof you can make money at anything. 

Standing on one of the sky walks overlooking the lights and Billboards that line Las Vegas Boulevard and thinking the music I heard was a great mix of a favorite song.  Only to turn around and realize it wasn’t music piped out to the streets from one of the casinos but was a guy right across the skywalk from me beatboxing it. 

Again, Vegas is many things.  It’s Italy, France, Egypt, Monaco.  It’s upscale or budget friendly. It’s home to wealthy and to homeless.  It’s home to vice.  It’s also home to creativity and talent and those putting themselves out there because they are passionate about something.

While I’m of the strong belief inspiration can be found anywhere, the neon lights of the Vegas strip shining down on all these everyday people attending conferences, on vacations or making a living by performing on the street, cleaning hotel rooms or dealing at tables, reminded me of that fact.  Each person has a story even if the only small snippet you see of their story is of them sleeping in a seat in a crowded airport.  


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