Wednesday, May 14, 2003

Ah, Las Vegas. A week there goes a long ways towards feeding a hunger for diversity and action, and restores the appeal of a quiet life at home.

It was our longest stay yet. We split a timeshare unit with Doug's parents. We find them very easy to travel with. We had two bedrooms and two bathrooms, conveniently separated by a full kitchen with dining area and living room. We didn't cook, but the fridge was handy for collecting leftovers and holding snacks. That moderated our indulgence in food a little.

We also indulged in alcohol, in gambling, in entertainment, in sightseeing, and oh my yes in shopping.

It's not the price that creates an indulgence -- it's the stepping beyond your normal bounds.

I was thinking out loud about how many cultures have had a time when normal rules are set aside -- a feast or carnival, a fair, a holiday -- we seem to have places to go instead. Lois -- Doug's Mom -- very astutely pointed out that those work best when you have a cohesive community. With Americans moving frequently, and many diverse cultures mingled, it's challenging to agree on a period when the rules change. So instead we go somewhere.

To Las Vegas. For example.

Boldly displayed in a hotel gift shop were t-shirts reading "What happens in Las Vegas, stays in Las Vegas" -- the logic of carnival captured in a sound bite.

One of the concepts of everyday life that Las Vegas stretches the most is that money is important. When you're there, some things become free and some become more expensive. Money turns into tokens, fast moving and of elastic value. You're enticed to play with money, spend it, tip it, risk it, maybe win it. It's very hard to keep taking it so seriously.

And that's a good thing. Because most of the time, grave stock commentators and stiff business advisors lead us to take money very seriously indeed. But there are things that are more important, aren't there?

Then, when the party begins to tire instead of free, it's time to go home. Back to a steady and moderate life, which sounds better and better -- comforting and nourishing and worthwhile.

And that is my favorite benefit of a vacation in Las Vegas -- that home gains so much glamor when it's time to return.

No comments: