Monday, September 17, 2012

When the Lights Go Out in the City

Vacation is something you plan (maybe for months or maybe just a few days in advance). Vacation is an escape.

My best friend and I had planned our Vegas trip to celebrate his mom's 50th birthday for months. We counted down the days, saved money and time off, and were beyond ready to cash it all in come Thursday. We spent a great night at Ri Ra, the Burger Bar, the Pub and walking down the Strip before staying in our wonderful hotel, The Golden Nugget.

But in this life it is a common lesson learned that things never quite go as planned. While poolside on our first full day of vacation, my friend got one of those calls that you hope to never get, no matter where you are. We hurriedly ran back to our room, threw everything in our suitcases and promptly left Vegas as quickly as we had left to get there just hours before. And it hit me on the drive home: there are just some things you can't escape.Sure, by a pool many problems seem to fade; of course, a frozen treat or cocktail can sweeten a day; distance between you and the things that stress you out can be oh so healthy; but certain things will not just call us back to reality, they will throw us back into its arms with an intense gravitational pull. And no one wants the fun to stop. No one wants to go right back to face the things they face every day and were trying to take a break from. But sometimes life requires that you do that. All the important Vegas decisions about where to go for lunch, what to do next, which drink to try, all faded away as the lights from the shows and casinos disappeared behind us.

My friendships are important to me. In this current social/political climate I feel like there is a lot of talk and debate over what defines a family. Yes, there is blood. Your blood relatives will always be family. But I also know from many an experience that family can be defined as something stronger than a blood relation. There are those people who you choose to escape with and choose to escape from. Those people you are happy to see on vacation and in real life, who you hope to never be far from -- I would argue those people are family too. Sure, I could sit and mourn vacation time lost. But in all reality, I was ever so glad I was the one chosen to be by my friend's side when he needed me most.

And really, this post about Vegas wouldn't have been any different from the others prior, had things gone as planned. I would mention the pool, the Sugar Factory etc. etc. So maybe I am actually the one who needs a break from Vegas. I got to thinking, maybe this trip was about something so much deeper than the shopping and the bonding. It's time to be real. Life is short. It's time to live (and not just live it up). It's time to live with what we have, the decisions we have made, and live it with those people who matter the most. Everything else will naturally fade away, like the lights from the Strip fading in the distance.

My friend's grandfather died Saturday morning. We had made it home in time to be with his family. To be there for the end. My grandfather used to live in Las Vegas. He told me that he only saw the lights in downtown go out once: when President Kennedy died. That sight had been so hard for me to imagine ... up until now.


  1. So touching, a good reminder for all of us. Thank you Beth. Ciao for now

  2. You and I have talked about this before... at the end of the day, it is all about our family and friends and many times those lines are blurred whether by blood or by those that we have chosen to spend time with. I'm sure that the memory of helping your friend will forever be one that will outlive any vacation weekend that you might have had instead.

    Thank you for sharing so beautifully such an honest and raw moment with us. Colleen