“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
I dozed in and out of sleep late one Saturday afternoon. A glass of Malbec half drunk on top of a stack of books on my mirrored night stand. I toyed with the idea of drinking the remainder to send myself into a slumber for the rest of the day. I really had nothing planned and there was no specific or urgent reason to leave the warmth of my bed– except maybe to pull down the blinds in an attempt to block the sun that was reflecting off of my neighbor’s window.
I rolled over and looked at my phone as it lit up at that very moment with a message. Not at all who I’d expected, but intrigued, I typed in my passcode haphazardly. Fat fingers. Try again.
“Be downstairs in an hour. Bring the dog.”
A second message.
“By the way, what’s your address?”
I smiled. An adventure. Something I’d trade in the comfort of my crisp white sheets for.
I sent a message with my address, stretched beneath my duvet and then flung it off of me before stumbling to the shower.
I didn’t ask any further questions about where we were going or what we were doing. I don’t know if it didn’t occur to me or I just didn’t care. I put on my favorite jeans, a tight white ribbed shirt, and black lace up boots. I gathered my dog’s leash, his bag, and my coat. When I looked down at my phone, I realized I was already late.
“I guess you aren’t coming then?”
I quickly messaged back, “I’m on my way.”
Downstairs, I spotted his car double parked and covered in salt from a recent snow. I smiled and waved before opening the passenger door where I was greeted by his own dog, weighing twice as much as I do. My tiny canine, typically the alpha dog, kept quiet.
I pulled on my seatbelt and he pulled out of his illegal parking spot and headed down the street. We made pleasant chatter. I asked about his recent vacation. He asked me about what I was working on. The sun was bright and I hadn’t brought my sunglasses so, I played with the visor to avoid squinting or just talking with my eyes closed.
I hadn’t thought much about where we were going. A dog park? A park in general? It wasn’t until he kept looking down to check directions that I started to get a bit more curious.
“Do you even know where we’re going?”
“I haven’t been in a little while and I’m just checking the traffic.”
“So you’ve been to this mysterious place?”
He laughed, “Yes, they have great coffee.”
I kept quiet for a moment and then he said, “You don’t have anywhere you have to be for a while, do you?”
“I can’t believe how willing you were to just get in the car with me.”
I started to question my own judgement, which he seemed to sense.
“They have great coffee,” he repeated.
I guess it’s true what they say, time does pass when you are having fun. Pleasant conversation lasted as the city grew further and further away and the scenery grew more and more rural. Brick buildings replaced by barren trees. After about two hours, we took an exit off of the highway and he drove probably too quickly down some back country roads that reminded me of home in West Virginia where I’d driven carelessly in my Cabriolet during warm summer days as a teenager.
Several minutes later and we made a turn down a long gravel driveway where we ran over a large branch causing the engine to smell like it was on fire. He laughed softly and looked at me sheepishly as if to assure me everything was alright. Safely parked in the driveway, I was able to distract myself from the scent of burning rubber to the fact that we had arrived at the most charming farmhouse, coincidentally just as the sun was reaching “magic hour,” casting and even more majestic filter on the scene.
“Here we are,” he said letting the dogs out of the car to roam the sprawling, yet still barren landscape.
“Wow,” I said softly, “it’s beautiful.”
He smiled proudly and said, “Well, I’d help you with your bags, but…”
I smirked and said, “Yeah, thanks for the head’s up.”
“It’ll be awfully hard to do morning yoga in those jeans.”
“But what about my coffee?”
He winked, “You’ll get it in the morning.”
I hadn’t brought anything with me, but felt slightly relieved knowing I had, at least, a spare toothbrush in my purse.
Once inside, he began to unpack his canvas bags of groceries and asked how hungry I was. I told him I hadn’t eaten all day and so he joked that he better start cooking right then. I didn’t protest. He opened a bottle of red wine– oh, how we’ve come full circle– and I sat at the kitchen island while he sliced brussels sprouts and prepared two pieces of salmon. The only thing he asked of me was to put on some music and after toying with his complex system, I put on a mix of soft, relaxing sounds that wouldn’t distract from conversation, which flowed easily.
I set the table and asked where I could find more candles. We ate and laughed, never missing a beat, like friends who hadn’t seen each other in years.
Having cleaned up, we made our way to the large couch, where he’d lit a fire and the dogs had claimed their own spots on opposite ends. He picked up a guitar and sang, something I hadn’t known he could do, a song I’d never heard before asking if I had any requests.
“Wild Horses,” I said.
I grabbed a nearby tambourine and momentarily lived out my dreams as a backup dancer, but once his fingers grew tired of strumming the guitar, we curled in to watch a movie, which neither one of us managed to make it through.
We must’ve woken up within near seconds of each other. He smiled sheepishly, “Come with me.”
Too tired to protest, I took his hand as he guided me from the couch down the dark hallway, dogs in tow.