The night before the wedding of my friend, a former Las Vegas stripper, I can’t sleep so I sit and write. It’s late, after midnight. The wedding is in her conservative hometown on the East Coast. It’s my first time on the East Coast and I’m so excited about being here. Most of the lights are out in this three-story house. It’s actually two stories and a basement, which I believe qualifies as an entire story, but I’ve never had to wonder about classifying any basements in Las Vegas because there are none there. Las Vegas homes are stucco boxes with about as much permanence as a movie set. The buildings here are resistant to the elements. They’re massive red brick fortresses built to withstand time and stand strong through generations of inhabitants.
Yesterday I had dinner inside a building that was older than the United States. Some of the founding fathers were guests of the particular tavern when it was also an inn. Centuries ago, they were there dreaming of revolution and these days, strippers drink whiskey in the very same spot.
I write from the top floor of the dark old house. I’m in a room with three other people and I just caught another restless wedding guest awake. I see the light of his cell phone shine on his face. As I wrote that, I heard a woman laugh in another room. It was a laugh like someone else told her a fabulous joke before they both decide that another glass of wine would be fine. “It’s not that late.” Minutes ago, I heard the makeup artist singing show tunes. Before that, he was drinking cheap vodka from a bottle with white freezer frost all over it. I anticipate that I won’t be the only person with dark circles under my eyes in the wedding pictures.
The bride grew up in this town, a city with about as many inhabitants as a small music festival. Downtown has a view of the Chesapeake Bay. There are docks clustered with white sailboats and cafes populated with people wearing khakis and polo shirts the color of a beach scene: pale pink, baby blue and sea foam green. It’s something out of a Ralph Lauren advertisement. I saw, while walking around downtown, a cardboard cutout of Obama wearing a T-shirt saying “Don’t blame me. I voted for McCain!”
The wedding guests are, perhaps, out of place in such a city. The bride has traveled all around the world and has collected an incredibly diverse group of friends who all happen to be in this dark old house right now. I’m honored to find myself packed like a sardine tonight in this group of artists, writers, musicians and other menaces to society. It is so inspiring to be around thinkers.
This dark old house is odd. It is rented from a woman who knows the bride’s family. The landlady chose to decorate the rooms in themes. There is a tropical American flag and beach room, for example. Clusters of knickknacks, tchotchkes and various other “things” litter each room. One room even has a cluster of blackface figurines. She has them arranged in front of a wooden watermelon.
It is wonderful to be out of Vegas. I miss my boyfriend and my dog, but I’m thrilled to be on the East Coast and eager to venture to other cities. I’ve decided that my next stop is New York City. I am now friends with a photographer who lives in Brooklyn. We’re going to eat the best pizza on this side of the Atlantic.