day thirty-eight (Existance*)

I live three-and-a-half hours away from Vegas now and when I wake up at 6 a.m. to make the drive this morning, I say, why the fuck am I leaving so early? So I go back to sleep and decide to meet my friend Julia at 3 p.m. instead. Three other friends text me at 10 a.m. to ask if I’m almost there. I tell them I’m still in bed and they say, “What?”

The drive to Vegas is hot. I’m afraid my car will give out on the side of the highway and then I’ll melt in the desert or cry until some party bus filled with white people stops to help. I don’t want that to happen. I’m actually wearing makeup today. I turn my AC off and think about how much my car has been through. It wouldn’t give up on me now, but at the same time, I wouldn’t be surprised.

Julia says we are having a spa day and I’m relieved because Cindy was being a dick about my dress not being “Vegas-appropriate,” so I don’t want to be turned away from clubs, which she and her boyfriend implied would happen. I wear the dress anyways and feel cute as fuck. I meet up with Julia, Wendy, and some irrelevantly tall and skinny bitch at the spa. I pay $100 for a 50-minute massage session, but what I really get out of it is a conversation with a woman named Anna, who’s been working in Vegas for maybe 14 years now. She says, “Damn, I can’t believe it’s been 10 years. I used to be 23 too girl, now I’m 40.” I want to ask her if she has any life advice for me but don’t. She tells me about all the weird encounters she’s had and encourages me to move here. She talks about her mentally disabled son. She sighs a few times and says, “Life.” I say, “I know right?” She gives me a Swedish massage instead of a deep tissue massage so I should only be charged $75, but I like her enough to fork over the difference. I guess that’s how they get you.

The irrelevantly tall and skinny bitch drives off in her Mercedes. Julia, Wendy, and I go back to the Cosmo. We drink, walk around, shop, drink, and go to Nobu, where we spend $60 each eating tiny portions of Japanese-Peruvian food. We talk about how Nobu (the person, not the restaurant) is probably an asshole who spends all his time on a private island. Look at how much of a dick people are about Nobu (the restaurant, not the person). It’s the most expensive meal I’ve paid for in my life and I realize that’s really all I can say about it, which is how Vegas makes you feel in general.

Julia realizes the irrelevantly tall and skinny bitch has stolen $300 from her. We fall asleep to the movie Practical Magic and when I wake up, it’s already time to shower and check out.

I make the executive decision to leave late because yolo. We’re back to balling on a budget, so we get Panda Express for lunch and then window shop around the Venetian all day. We walk, sit, talk, laugh, walk, sit, walk, sit, talk, and laugh. It’s my first time meeting Wendy and it’s been months since I’ve seen Julia, but we are a good group and we make plans to meet up by the time we’re all 26, so we can live in New York together. Wendy will be a lawyer, I’ll be a writer, and Julia will be whatever the fuck she wants to be.

We gamble a bit and lose a lot of money. I say, next time I’ll be more prepared. We bet on red, then black, then black and red, and then 23 multiple times because that’s how old Julia and I are and how old Wendy will be turning soon and that’s the reason she’s here. Wendy is moving to Durham for law school and I’m so amused at our missing each other.

I drop them off at the airport around 8 p.m. and head home. An hour-and-a-half outside of L.A. I bypass a stretch of ridiculous traffic by taking a side road through some side city and the moon is so full. I put my windows down and sing loudly. I call Stephanie a few times but connection keeps dying. I take a wrong turn and go back down the stretch of ridiculous traffic on the opposite side of the highway, and then bypass the traffic again. I think about my grandma and family. I feel good about my life and my decisions.

And then I’m back home. This is what I call this place now. It’s what I’ve labeled it in Google Maps so I know it’s real. I park my car all the way in the back, next to the persimmon trees. On my walk from my car to the door I smell weed from the next-door neighbors. I take off my shoes and slip in through the kitchen and into my room. Sad Gal Riri greets me and I’m here.


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