The Long and Winding Road


The first leg of Anthony and I’s trip across the country lead us to Sin City. That’s right, Las Vegas, Nevada.

Vegas and I have a long history. My grandmother and mother have a penchant for gambling. I’d like to say that my grandmother has never met a penny slot she didn’t like, but that would be a lie. Martha is, in fact, very particular about her slot machines. For years, I didn’t realize that gambling wasn’t legal because so many of our family vacations ended up at a casino. I swear I learned to count playing 21, and I may have been the only kid in middle school trying to play Pai Gow instead of War.

I remember my first trip to Vegas. I was 10. I spent a lot of time wearing this blue and grey sweater with three butterflies across the chest. My Aunt Lynda brought her daughter Angel and son Ben, who at the time was just a little thing. Everything seemed so magical. So much light, beauty, a mist surrounding the entire strip. Sure, it might be cigarette smoke, but it felt like Disneyland, but for adults.

As we drove to Vegas on Sunday, I’m reminded of some more recent trips. In particular, my 21st birthday.

Like many people celebrating their legality, I gathered my best pals and took to the Vegas strip. I’d tell you more, but, as they say, “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.” Or on Facebook, which still has many of the pictures from the trip 🙂 The story that comes to mind, however, is in reference to the drive home. After a night of doing what people do in Vegas–including numerous Jell-O shots courtesy of my dear friend, sorority sister, and former roommate, Katie–my father was graced with the task of driving myself, my boyfriend at the time, and his best friend back to Los Angeles. It’s fair to say that I woke up feeling a little…off. After half a can of 7-up, I figured I was as solid as I’d ever be and hopped into the front seat of the Tahoe. A few miles down the road, I knew that I was not okay. My father suggested that I close my eyes, rest. Somewhere around Baker, my father–ever the food explorer–saw a sign for Alien Jerky. “What?!” Of course he had to try it, and with the other two passengers excited and near-salivating at the thought of checking out this strange roadside shop, he pulled off the road.

That’s when things started to get rough. They asked if I wanted to come in. I didn’t want to move a muscle, in fact, at that point I’d be more than happy to lay on the side of the road and sacrifice myself to the Gods of Adulthood, as they were obviously rejecting my application.

The happily and eagerly returned to the car, ripping open their bags of cured meat. The smell permeated the car, floating up into my nostrils, causing my stomach to churn and turn. I closed my eyes, praying that my somersaulting tummy would come to rest. It didn’t.

We had just gotten back to the Baker side road, when I quickly rolled down the window, threw my head out and painted the sidewalk.

Anthony and I stopped at that very Alien Jerky spot on the way out to Vegas. Fingers crossed that we can skip the vomit this time.

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