“Did you know it is New York state law that you can’t buy alcohol before 8am?”
“It makes me sad that we are even trying to buy wine before noon.”
Kate laughs. Her long white blonde hair covering her porcelain white skin. She tucks it behind her ears revealing her eerily clear green eyes.
“Fuck it. We’ll get some on the plane.” Her Australian accent even makes curse words charming.
We struggle with our bags all the way to the gate. I’m not even sure what we packed or why we packed as much as we did for a long weekend. I think I always have a moment of panic towards the end of packing when my strategic outfit count goes out the window and I just start throwing random things into my suitcase– just in case.
A little eyelash batting had gone a long way at check in as both of us had gone over the allotted bag weight. The same can’t be said for the restaurant where we attempted to procure two glasses of pre-flight, mid-hangover champagne.
I’m not sure how I even ended up agreeing to this trip. I hate Las Vegas, but I love my friend who is in town from Tulum. How this beautiful Australian ended up in Mexico is a longer story than I have time to tell. We are meeting a few of her friends from Mexico City where everything is said to have been “taken care of” for us. She had to do a good bit of convincing to get me acquiesce, but I trust her. I have since the first time we stared up at the moon together on top of The Standard. The best way I can describe her is an alien. She’d take that as a compliment.
We finally board and take longer than most passengers to settle into our seats. Maybe we are still slow from last night’s events or we just have more belongings than anyone else, most likely a combination of both. She takes the seat closest to the window. I nobly take the middle, praying that no one has reserved the aisle. I pull out a book, Black Tickets, and hope that I can fall asleep before we take off as I often do.
Then my mind starts to wander. I remember the last time I was in Las Vegas. Much different than the first time, nearly five years prior. The last time I set foot in the city of sin, I nearly got married. Not in a drunken fit of fun that would have left me with much more than a hangover, but I had been with my ex as he had been hired to photograph the opening of The Cosmopolitan and they realized that they had no one to be the first couple married in the chapel. He looked at me through his checkered glasses and shrugged, “Should we just do it?”
I considered it. My father would be thrilled at the prospect of not having to empty his bank account for a wedding. My mother would never forgive me for not being there. He told me I had a few hours to think about it. I took a nap instead.
Before I could come up with a good reason for opting out, he called to tell me that someone had volunteered. I went back to sleep until he was done shooting.
I was jolted back to reality as the plane started to move, at which point my good luck had already begun– no one next to me. Kate grabbed my arm and squeezed it. Her enthusiasm never ceases to amaze me. She makes it hard to have a bad attitude. Kate’s sunny outlook can make you feel guilty for being anything but positive. I smile back at her and then we both stare out the window, dark sunglasses protecting our bloodshot eyes from the early morning sun.
I flip my book open and try to distract myself. I make it through a few pages before Kate’s gasp startles me, dropping my book.
“What? Are you ok?”
“Look!” she says pointing to the panel next to her seat.
I burst into a fit of laughter, although there is nothing funny about her discovery. The panel is popping out and you can feel the cold air coming in through the space. She sticks her hand in the space and my laughter only gets louder.
“We are going to fall out of this plane!” she says, green eyes wide, as she pushes the call button to attract the attention of a flight attendant.
It takes a few minutes for anyone to arrive and as Kate expresses her concern about the panel and inevitable end of our lives, my laughter only intensifies. The flight attendant assures us that there is nothing to worry about though her face deceives her. She suggests that she’s going to bring us some wine to make reparations for our stress.
“Well, you’re finally getting your wine,” I manage between my fits of giggles.
Kate stares at me and then bursts into her maniacal laughter. “This is NOT funny!”
We continue laughing until the flight attendant returns with four mini bottles of wine for us. Surely, she doesn’t think that is going to keep us from fretting for the next four hours. We clink clear plastic cups and I think Kate took hers down in one large gulp.
Eventually, a combination of the laughter and wine lull me into a light sleep, waking now and again to readjust my neck. Sometimes startling myself from my own snores. I groggily look over to see Kate asleep. Head resting on the same faulty panel. I smile and fall back asleep until I feel the plane make contact with the runway.
I never thought I’d be so happy to land in Las Vegas. In a city so full of sin, surely we’ve met our guardian angel.
Photos by Skinny K