i sit 20 miles outside of downtown Sin City, as they call it, that famed soulless strip of neon and extravagance where looming giants of renown prestige and names like Bellagio, Palazzo and MGM Grand vie to outdo each other in luxury and pizazz. there was a time when i claimed to have little desire to see this notoriously plastic city, yet as i stepped out in the glitz and self indulgence and blinked in the sunlight and decadence, i found myself entirely entertained and absolutely amazed. here, in the midst of the most unlikely desert terrain, a thriving, pulsing monster of green-bellied insatiety dazzles and throbs in the electric air…and oh, how very much there is to see. vegas is sensory overload at its best, in the most consuming way imaginable.
and i am no different, here; i embrace the conformity of a wide-eyed tourist with a vice-like grasp, nearly skipping ahead of my family in the anticipation of seeing the Bellagio lobby ceiling with my own two eyes (ps: it blew even my high expectations to shreds). i was entirely unprepared for the beauty of the glass flowers blooming overhead.

Bellagio Lobby Ceiling

highlights of my vegas trip?
sitting 5th row at “Jersey Boys” (a musical my dad has wanted to see since its conception) with my whole family, bopping and singing along to oldies we’ve shared an affinity for since my elementary school days (before i could pick out a harmony and when my dad still thought he could sing like Franki Valli)…
watching my mom finish in the top 2 tables of the company Texas Hold’Em tournament, clapping and exclaiming like an excitable school girl every time she won some chips and kept advancing. (quite the unsuspecting card shark, that seemingly-innocent little woman)…
seeing ryan for the first time since Christmas (the longest we’ve been apart, ever) and having our whole family back together again on a vacation, reminiscent of my childhood days before things like states and secrets came to sit between us and the world felt a softer kind of place, quieter in the spaces between who we might become and who we leave behind. we’ve traded in virgin chocolate smoothies for delicately stemmed glasses and we understand our parents differently now, the way children do when they cease to be children any longer… the way my father and brother talk business now, and my mother asks me how she looks before going out to dinner; the way ryan and i share knowing smiles when one of them says something so sweet, so innocently adorable that we wish we could bottle them up and hold them that way forever, protected from parts of the world we know might break their hearts…

the way my father, on our last night at dinner, looked at me across the table for a long moment with tears in his eyes as i finished speaking to the waiter and surprised me with these simple, choked words: “you really are a beautiful woman.”

i’ve heard that before, but never like that, never so genuine, never so life changing.

so this, then, is growing up. and for once, i am less afraid than i always thought i’d be.

My Beautiful Family