Back in my early 20s, a young man, I thought I'd marry, invited me to go to Vegas and see Elvis. I'd never been to Vegas, never seen Elvis, and frankly, I was a Beatles fan. But, I was also in love and girls in love do crazy things.
We drove from Tulsa to Vegas with not much time as I remember. We still managed to stop and take some pics on the Hoover Damn, him in his black cowboy hat me in my halter top and long blond hair. We were living large. Young people didn't travel like they do today. We had our nose to the ground and were intent on getting an education, good job, marriage, children and happily ever after. It was simple: hard work will pay off. This trip was huge during my youth; different times now for sure.
Vegas blew me away. I'd never seen a city so lit up and soon I was immersed in the glory of lights and sounds and marquis. The goal was to see and do and drink as much as we could. I have vivid memories of wearing a sheer top, crushed velvet hot pants and purple suede boots as I strutted across the casino carpets. I was bra less, brazen, and bending to no one else.
Elvis' performance was some kind of charismatic that I had never experienced. He convinced me the title KING suited him and had me screaming with the best of his fans. The rest of the weekend was foggy; but, I remember returning home with pneumonia. Live hard, play hard-isn't that want we do with our 20s.
This past weekend, my husband of 30 years and I returned to Vegas. This time it was to find a place away from everything to gather our boys. Our whole family hadn't been together in over six years and we just wanted us to reconnect in a neutral zone away from jobs, homes, and all the responsibilities of normal life. Vegas is anything but normal.
Our boys are now in their 20s and 30s. Their idea of Vegas mimics my views of Vegas in my 20s. Personally, I can take about 48 hours in that city now-there is just too much craziness. However, I wouldn't have missed seeing my daughter in law enjoy her virgin visit, my three boys have a guys night out, the two shows we saw, my husband's elation as he came off the roller coaster, or those family conversations we had. I would do that anywhere, anytime.
This I know for sure. As we age our perspective changes. I would be appalled at a young girl looking and acting like I did in my 20s...in fact, I was pretty shocked at the young women I saw and their great lengths to get attention. My health is far more important than alcohol now. And I'll take family over strangers any day. I still enjoy and respect the talent which is bountiful in Vegas shows: but, other than the consistent entertainment, all of my perspectives on Vegas have changed.
I'm saddened by the money being thrown into gambling while hunger and drugs fills the streets. I can't differentiate between the hookers, dancers, and tourist girls; they all look wanting. Smoke, and drugs permeate the air while beautiful desert landscapes surround the city. The contrast causes my body to tense. The city that once excited my senses now violates them.
I'm sure our perspective comes from the inside out. In my sixth decade I am confident and comfortable in myself. I know making someone else feel good about how they look is much more important than the way I look. God's landscape is more miraculous than anything man made. Peace and happiness doesn't come from a drink, but from self. And it is important to make time for family to reconnect...even if it's in Vegas.