So back in January, one of my Wills-with-benefits bought me a ticket to fly out to visit him in Vegas. By the time the trip actually rolled around, I was embroiled in the most ridiculously circular finances-related clusterfuck I’d ever been in, and I couldn’t tell if that was the worst time to be taking off for Vegas, or the BEST TIME.
Anyway, I landed in Vegas, turned on my phone as I was getting off the plane, and texted Vegas-Will to be like, Hey friend, where you at? ;)
Him: At work.
Apparently he hadn’t taken the day off, and completely neglected to tell me that I was going to be sitting in the airport for six hours, but NEVER FEAR! he made some phone calls and got me attached to a bachelorette party that was leaving the airport then. In a limo. With free champagne.
So as they’re pouring me a glass and I’m getting introduced to the group, and one of the girls says, “You look really familiar.”
We’d already established that she and I hailed from the same city in Texas (not as much of a coincidence as it sounds, because of Reasons) and so I told her that I used to go to ___ high school.
“Yeah, so did I,” she said. “More familiar than that.”
They continued to feed me alcohol as we arrived at their hotel, meandered through the casino, and eventually settled in for a liquid lunch. The girl and I resumed trying to figure out whether we knew each other.
“I changed my name,” I offered. “When I was in high school I went by ___.”
“HOLY SHIT,” she said, enlightenment dawning at last. “I remember you now! You dated Gian!”
Gian, the abusive first boyfriend that I had when I was fifteen.
“Holy shit,” I said, my back going up. “And I remember you. You were his best friend.”
To her credit, she’s not anymore — “haven’t spoken to him in about eight years, but we’re still facebook friends” — and I never had any beef with her, it was just that when Gian and I fell apart she was contractually obliged (as his best friend) to come down on his side.
“…Yeah, he’s kind of an asshole,” she acknowledged. “And a pathological liar–”
“–kind of an asshole?” I sputtered. “He was psychotic. He was gaslighting me the entire goddamn time we were dating, and because he was the first boyfriend I’d ever had, I didn’t know enough to know better.”
And, apparently, later got institutionalized for plotting with his then-girlfriend to kill their parents.
So yeah. That was a thing that happened.
Vegas is… well, it’s two cities that exist sort of side by side, the one for tourists and the one for locals, and both are fairly depressing. The former is made of glitz I can’t afford, and meticulously engineered to convince you that everyone is having a better time than you are. The latter is a white trash nightmare.
I’m very, very middle class — which sits oddly with my sometimes-attraction to white trash guys, because I am so wildly, hellaciously uncomfortable and out of place in their world. I don’t eat their food, watch their media, spend my money on the same things, work their jobs, laugh at their jokes, or agree with their politics. It’s not even me being judgmental, per se — except for why do you live in squalor, it doesn’t cost any money to clean your shit up and goddamnit, you are not sober enough to drive — because I don’t think liking Captain America fanfic more than Sponge Bob gives me any moral high ground, or that my ambitions, when you put them in perspective, are considerably loftier. It’s just a place that I don’t fit and don’t enjoy.
(To be fair, Will’s roommates were alright to me. They were cool with him bringing a dude over to shag for a week, and since he’s straight-but-for-me, they were mostly gleeful at getting extra ammunition for gay jokes at his expense.
…but tolerance doesn’t equate to being allies. They — Will included — will still vote Republican, if they bother to vote, either not knowing or not caring about the hate that party spews and attempts to get written into the law, instead fetishizing their guns and low taxes, and feeding the corporations that make damned sure that they’ll never actually get ahead in the world. My other Will-with-benefits once remarked that America seems to consider itself a land of “temporarily-embarrassed millionaires,” and votes accordingly.)
Berkeley and I don’t always get along, but fuck, I was glad when I could finally slink back to California. Not for the first time this semester, I found myself thinking, I want to go home, and realizing that I’ve got nowhere that feels like home. The closest I have is Berkeley, that’s where my stuff is, but I’m tired of Berkeley and fed up with its bullshit; I live alone in an overpriced shoebox, and considering how close I’ve come to losing it for not being able to make rent, it doesn’t feel secure, doesn’t feel like it’s mine, feels like something that’s always on the verge of being taken away.
All in all, I wouldn’t say that I feel worse than I did when I left, but I certainly don’t feel any better.