When the car takes the rising, gentle curve from the 215 to the Las Vegas Freeway, which runs parallel to Las Vegas Boulevard, both Willy, the driver, and Jake, the rear passenger, are stunned by the splendor that is the south end of the Las Vegas Strip. It’s all new to them. Massive hotels with countless panes of glass glimmering in the sun and reflecting the sky and it’s at their fingertips. They’re both awestruck and speechless but my silence stems from a different seed. For the Vegas veterans like me, recollections both rancorous and delightful take a stranglehold of my mind.
I’ve forged so many memories in this city and with my head resting and tilted to the right, watching The Strip scroll along, they replay without warning. Triggered by how ostentatious and iconic everything in Las Vegas tries and has to be.
Thunderous bass, massive white explosions of luminescence and hundreds of cheering people at Light Nightclub in Mandalay Bay instantly cuts to a long, quiet and nondescript hotel hallway. The site of the final fight with a past girlfriend years before when my eyes lock onto the colorful spires atop The Excalibur. Her burning words and voice make a smooth transition to that of another woman at five in the morning as we stare at the ceiling of the Alibi Bar in the Aria. We’re by ourselves laying next to each other on a contemporary chaise lounge and expresses her worry about the uncertainty of her life moving forward. Suddenly her and I are well dressed toasting to chance encounters late at night sharing sushi and stories at Nobu in Caesar’s Palace. “Do you know what exit to get off at?” Willy asks. Snapping me back into the car, I pause for a few seconds to refocus. “Joey?” “Sorry, you can take Charleston Boulevard then a left on Main. It should take us right to The Plaza.” I say still reaching out at the sun smiling at the many other inscriptions of my Vegas history passing by and at memories yet to be etched.