The Uninteresting Self 2
It is such a welcomed relief. Gently I place the glass on the counter and fill it with the contents of bourbon. I laugh to myself in that not so funny tone that there is not enough present to do the job. I raise the glass to my lips and let the welcoming burn of the alcohol coat the lining of my throat before stepping out into the desert night.
It is a welcomed relief from the oppressive summer heat that seemed swept away by some ancient god as fed up as I am with being stuck inside. A brisk breeze gives me a joyful thrill, a sense of vitality and renewed vigor. Above me is a crisp bright full moon, unobstructed in the sky, dominating the nearby infinite stars. It is the beauty of South Nevada, Las Vegas.
Two miles behind me lies the interrogating streetlights, billboards and masses of fools chasing straights and full-houses, 21’s and roulette wheels, cocktail waitresses and hookers. All the natural beauty drowned in the dreams of material success, not earned, but won in some cosmic cheat, some prophetic shortcut these people think are a birthright. And they are the true gamblers, even the pros, because they have something to lose. That is the essence of gambling—taking money, stock, or rent, food or possessions and letting it ride on the gods’ shining on you… just this once. So you, You can go home and tell Your friends how you beat the house. I am sure it happens. But these glory tales are like the Greek Legends of Homer. There was a Troy, but where there a thousand ships?
Only the truly wealthy come here for sport, but they are never seen. They are picked up at private corporate airports off the likes of Saint Rose Parkway or the private terminals at Las Vegas International. The limos drive them to the hotels with blacked-out windows and stiff professional drivers, forgoing check-ins and checkouts. They become the vague faces tucked away in the backrooms you can see if you stretch your neck around pillars, into the empty curtained off corridors, the three men at a table for ten, each stacked with chips painted in colors reserved for first grade projects.
But here, just outside broken dreams, where the wind catches your face and chaps your lips, where the sun cracks your skin as it is peppered by drifting desert sands, there are infinite stars dancing through the darkness and lighting each step that echoes along the boards of the patio behind my apartment. The moon is like a flashlight in the midst of a dark tunnel coming at me and lighting the world in a neon-esc glow. Below me I see racing bushels of shrubbery, lizards and cockroaches, spiders and petty dogs tugging tired owners down cobblestone walkways. It is almost wild in this civilization.
Off in the distance I can hear the joy of friends drinking beer and sharing inane stories like it was mythology. I love these moments. Nothing seems more human than sharing times of great pain or joy in the sense of a grand experiment. Where a night out with friends becomes an epic tale of adventure and chance; where the simple act of conversing with a stranger takes you to another place; there is discomfort, unsurèdness and trial by fire. It makes me think of Odysseus. I have had so many of these nights. How I never noticed how great, how important that night would be as I experience it. Then, as the adventure concludes and I wake, that slow realization, the events witnessed then leading to inside jokes, epic tales to strangers, labels and grander explanations as to why… This is Humanity! This is Life! Not the debauchery, not the mistakes, not fun nor the kindness, but the experience, the knowledge and the wisdom, the friends gained and stories that define us. Life becomes tangible, it becomes real. The aesthetic, the intrinsic value of experience that is shared through interaction births life beyond wakefulness and the quelling of this quiet desperation.
Is this what Odysseus felt after he vanquished the suitors? On the other hand, was it a friend of Odysseus’, like the friend today that fills in the blanks after too much drinking? I mean, how different could ten years of suffering challenges be compared to one night of blacking out? In either case, you would need a little support, right?
Yet, I digress. It is a woman’s laughter. That unbridled joy which generates from the gut in which I love. It is that rare laugh. It is a laugh everyone appreciates and comics die for. She is recounting a story about high school. I cannot follow because of my own egocentric tendencies. I hear her, relate, then leave time and remember something. I then return when the spell brakes by another hearty laugh bellowing against this silent evening.
I imagine that this laugh crashes against the buildings, that it intrudes the very windows shut to this extraordinary evening. It is a Monday night. There is no great tragic worldly news…yet. It is quiet, no sirens, screeching tires or car alarms. Most of the neighborhood is asleep or at work. Yet, I’d like to envision that this laugh, this original laugh is jabbing imaginary pencils into the sleeping ears of some uptight executive just trying for that promotion—that it is destroying his night so completely that he has to get up and venture outside.
Like those of us born to the night, we are sick of the normality of early risers, those who pound nails at eight in the morning, and those who blast radios so they can hear it in the shower at 9 am; those same damn people that call the cops if friends are enjoying a beer at eleven on a Friday. Therefore, I imagine this beautiful laugh taunting this clone to rise against his will in the blackness of night to see the gorgeous display of cosmic light, the serenading music of crickets and their hyper-activity. The gentle blanketing softness of a chilling breeze after the departure of the summer heat and the energy of a full moon that pulls more than just the tide on this night long remembered.
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