Las Vegas, Nevada, USA
15.03.2004 - 18.03.2004
Dream land. The sun shines in a bright blue sky. I fly over Europe, past Venice and Paris, across the Atlantic by the Statue of Liberty and suddenly I am back in time, looking at King Arthur’s castle. Music wafts through the dry, hot air. Amy Lee sings, “bring me to life.”
I land. The Great Pyramid rises up before me. The Luxor Hotel in Las Vegas. I just drove from the office to the hotel, but whole parts of it have already faded from my memory. What happened during those lost minutes on the road? I should be concerned that perhaps I ran a car off the road or killed a small child crossing the strip, but my brain can’t focus. The ability to develop emotion or coherent thoughts is not present, those parts of my brain shut off. My brain, running on so little sleep, is conserving itself, making sure that the important things to my survival are running at their highest capacity.
It’s 5 o’clock in the afternoon in Las Vegas. I have past tired. I know that it is 8 o’clock back in Toronto. I know that I have slept 3 hours in the past 24 hours. I know that a bed awaits me upstairs, but I won’t go to bed. If I go to bed now, I will be up too early in the morning. I will force myself to stay up until at least 9 o’clock.
Rewind to last night and see my flight from Toronto to Las Vegas being delayed, and delayed, and delayed again. I finally arrive at the Luxor Hotel at approximately 12:30 in the morning, more than 4 hours after I was expected. There is a line up at the check-in, even at 12:30 in the morning. I don’t get checked-in until after 1. By the time I work my way through the casino, up to my room and settle in, it is 1:30. I set my alarm for 3:30 and turn off the light.
When the alarm goes off I rise, shower and head out. Arriving on the main floor, I am getting off the elevator while two couples carrying open beers and drunk were getting on to the elevator. I walk through the casino floor with my laptop slung over my shoulder, looking distinctly out of place as compared with the others on the floor. A man smokes intently and stares at the wheels on his slot machine spin, oblivious to my passing. A woman walks away from her slot machine and to the ATM machine. “What a desperate measure,” I think to myself, “you should go to bed.” So should I.
As much as I look out of place in work clothes and carrying a laptop, this world seems out of place to me. On so little sleep I find it hard to focus. If I move my head quickly it takes a moment for my eyes to refocus. Noises seem louder and more garish than they usually would. And noise and lights are what the casino is all about. To all sides slot machines call out to me. My brain is operating on tunnel vision, and I feel like I have attention deficit disorder. A ring and a flash occur to my right, and so I turn. Lights flash by my eyes as a blur. A ring occurs to my left, causing me to turn again. The calls continue as I walk across the floor.
Finally, I am out in the air. The night air is crisp. I look up into the sky. Stars are visible if I face away from the hotel, but as I turn towards the hotel the stars fade out of existence and all that is visible is the great spire of light shooting towards the night sky. The brightest light in the world, or so the hotel propaganda says. I try and focus my thoughts, but they seem to flitter out of my brain and up the beam of light into space. I decide not to think and instead just to drive.
Flip back to the afternoon. I sit at a bar in the Luxor and order a beer. I sip it slowly as the casino frenetically exists around me. I feel almost like I am moving in slow motion while everyone else is moving double time. On the weekend I had watched Lost in Translation, where Bill Murray goes to Japan. He is tired with Jet Lag, and confused by the barriers in language and culture. The distance that Bill Murray felt between L.A. and Tokyo is as far as I felt between Toronto and Las Vegas, even though the physical distance is nowhere near as much.
I eat, though I am not hungry. I wander the casino, unstimulated by the flashing lights and clanging machines. I am just killing time until I can go to sleep. My walk is like that of a zombie, my eyes shallow and unfeeling.
Finally it is 9 o’clock. I am tired not just because I hardly slept the night before, but also because it is midnight in Toronto. I settle into bed, my eyes shutting slowly. I would be lost in Las Vegas for the whole week, never able to really catch up on my sleep until the weekend came and I was back in my own bed in Toronto. In my real dreams, and not in that fantasy of reality that is Las Vegas.