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Dreaming of Las Vegas

Published: May 13, 2022

"Las Vegas" / Media From Wix

It’s been almost two weeks since my getaway to fabulous Las Vegas, Nevada: A shimmering gem surrounded by the sizzling, unforgiving desert. To this day, the vacation still tugs on my heartstrings, as I fondly recall Vegas’ enamoring streets and hotels.

Throughout my childhood, I’ve regarded Las Vegas as a sprawling casino: a place where people go to risk it all, either laughing their way to the bank or weeping destitute on the return flight. A place of capriciousness, of greed, of criminality. Sin City, as they call Vegas. For years, I’ve fallen into this lie —- I swore off visiting Vegas my entire life. That is, until I saw the city for myself.

It was an uneventful Friday. Given that Fridays are when I unwind after a week of studying, I decided to have a movie night to start the weekend off. Randomly picking one I felt would be engrossing to watch, I lounged back and pressed play. The movie was, for the most part, mediocre; cliche characters, shallow plot. I was relatively unamused, that is, until the characters visited Las Vegas. Never would I have known that my worldview was about to be eternally upended.

I still remember, vividly, how I felt when the luminous streets of Las Vegas lit up the screen as Afrojack’s “The Spark” began to play. For a minute, all my troubles, all my woes —- they ceased to exist. Faded into the fringes of my mind, as my eyes were glued to the screen like a moth to a flame. I was instantly bewitched by the city, resplendent in its modernity and beauty. The majestic palm trees, dancing in the warm night breeze. The youthful streets, illuminated by the dazzling lights. The ingeniously-designed architecture—- from the romantic Bellagio Fountains to Caesar’s Palace to the contemporary Cosmopolitan. Las Vegas put me under a spell, a spell too potent for my feeble heart.

Of course, I knew that I couldn’t travel there due to the pandemic restrictions, so I quickly snapped out of my emotional trance. Yet the city left an impression on me, an enduring one to say the least. For whenever I heard the word “lively”, I reminisced of Las Vegas. When I heard “spirited”, I reminisced of Las Vegas. When I heard “glamorous”, I reminisced of Las Vegas. Most notably of all, I would reminisce of Las Vegas upon hearing the word “perfection”, for perfect is what Las Vegas is to the eyes.

From that day forward, I no longer associated Las Vegas with “sin”, with “greed”, with “gambling”. I associated Vegas with resilience, for it is a herculean feat of humankind to create such an exquisite work in the barren Nevada desert. I associated Vegas with exuberance. Intrepidness. Originality. Indeed, these are the same traits I have strived to embody all my life as an individual —- was Las Vegas the city of my soul? I’ve asked myself countless times this past year. Perhaps not, I thought to myself. After all, the grass is only greener because it’s on the other side. Perhaps if I visited Las Vegas, it would eventually cease to captivate me.

Nonetheless, never in my life have I been so enthralled, so enchanted by a city. Los Angeles didn’t cut it. Neither did New York, nor Paris, nor Seoul, nor Tokyo. Yet Las Vegas stole my heart and vowed to hold it hostage until I landed at McCarran International Airport.

As a biology student, I knew that I had to test my hypothesis. I desperately itched to know whether Vegas was actually as idyllic as my mind made it out to be. So the second travel restrictions were lifted, I immediately booked a plane ticket to the city that ignited Elvis Presley’s soul on fire.

As soon as I landed at McCarran, I booked the nearest taxi into the Las Vegas Strip, the place I’ve dreamed of visiting for years. And after just a few minutes into the drive, I saw it.

For the first five minutes, I was starstruck. I could not utter a single word. Indeed, I thought I was in a mirage. How could a place this majestic, this awe-inspiring —- how could such a place be real? It’s one thing to view this diamond of a city from afar, it’s another to drive down the Las Vegas streets: the palm trees zooming past, the colourful architecture towering above you. It feels surreal. Blissful.

I believed that the glamour of Las Vegas would wane when I visited the city in-person, and I could not be more wrong. The longer I stayed, the more fondly I thought of Las Vegas. My fondness waned not when I marveled at the Bellagio Fountains. My fondness waned not when I witnessed the suave design of The Mirage and The Cosmopolitan. And every time I walked the streets of the Strip, Las Vegas won over another morsel of my heart.

It’s amazing how hastily five days can go by when you’re bedazzled by a place so enticing. As I headed back to the airport for my return flight, it took every morsel of willpower in my body not to reschedule the flight to a later date. “Just one more day in Las Vegas”, I said to myself, well-knowing that one day would turn into two, and two into four. Unfortunately, life requires sacrifices, and as much as I desired to stay in Vegas forever, I had in-person summer classes back home.

As the plane’s engines began to roar, as my seat rumbled from takeoff, I looked out the window and took one last glimpse of the desert’s crown jewel. Tears welled up in my eyes, as The Mirage, Mandalay Bay, the Ferris Wheel, the post-modern strip faded behind me. Never have I ever met a city so enduring, so spirited, —- a city that reminded me of the kind of person I strived to be. Indeed, leaving Las Vegas felt like leaving a part of myself behind —- it is undoubtedly my soul's city.

As I write this back home in Canada, a plethora of emotions swirl around in my mind. Gratitude, from having the opportunity to visit such an awe-inspiring place. Comfort, for I felt at home in the welcoming streets of the Strip. Melancholy, as I bittersweetly scrolled through the photos I captured there. Regret, as I kicked myself for not booking a lengthier stay. And most intensely of all, yearning. I longed to go back, I longed to land at McCarran again, to marvel at the Bellagio fountains again, to eagerly strut down the strip over and over again. Occasionally, I would even dream of Las Vegas, sleeping blissfully and waking up disillusioned, crushed that it was only a dream.

Las Vegas is to me what a thousand sweet nothings would be to the lovefool. And I was the biggest lovefool of all — not for falling in love with a place that merited it not, but for falling in love with a place that I couldn’t embrace forever. And I know that as much as I long to return to the streets of palm trees and bright lights, my trip would end in heartbreak every return flight. For I am never ready to leave Las Vegas - a youthful, spirited city that will forever have my heart and soul.

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