Even though I’ve enjoyed traveling around the world, I have been thinking lately that it is time for me to settle down. I need to get married, have a family, own a home and, perhaps, a dog. I’ve never been married and, honestly, I don’t have a lot of faith that it’s a possibility for me. I’m not good at flirting. I am awkward and shy. I’ve always been an outsider. I don’t do well with social games. I always tend to lose.
But last weekend, I was determined to change all of that. I was taking a few days off to go to Las Vegas. I just knew that this was going to be a great weekend for me. I had fantasies that I was going to meet someone very special. I tend to attract more people when I go out of town than when I’m at home. That’s easy to understand though. When I’m in my home city, I run around in sweats, with no make-up and my hair is unkempt. It’s different when I go out of town. I tend to make an effort to make myself more attractive.
So last Saturday, while I was in Vegas, I woke up early and took my time fixing my hair and make-up. I put on a long skirt that makes me look taller. My 5’5” frame looked slimmed and stretched to at least 5’7. I felt great and attractive as I walked down the Vegas strip. I’ll admit I did a few tosses of my long curled copper red hair as I smiled beguilingly at the people walking around me. I even caught myself glancing every now and then at my reflection in the windows of the shops and restaurants as I passed by. I laughed and took pictures and just felt happy and attractive… until I reached one of the overhead pedestrian walkways that crossed over South Las Vegas Boulevard.
I decided not to take the escalator or elevator. I felt strong and healthy so I went bounding up the twelve concrete steps. I was near the top of the stairs when suddenly the front tip of the sandal on my right foot caught on the edge of the top step and I felt myself pitching forward.
I put out my hands but wasn’t able to stop myself. I fell forward onto my face but that wasn’t the end of this escapade. By the time it registered in my brain that I was always falling, I was already rolling down the steps. Within seconds, I found myself sprawled in a tangle of limbs and long full skirt on the corner of Aria and South Las Vegas Boulevard. I laid there for a moment burning with embarrassment in front of all of the people. Yet, I felt strangely alone. No one helped me up. No one asked me if I was okay. Then I opened my eyes to find a group of men standing on the corner pointing at me and laughing hysterically.
I looked down at the palms of my hands that were scrapped raw. My left foot felt twisted and bruised. My biggest concern though was my camera. The little bottom door of the camera laid open and the batteries were falling out. Amid the sounds of loud laughter and chattering voices, I pulled myself up from the ground and snapped my camera back together. Then, with as much dignity as I could muster, I began to walk back up the steps, moving slowly but with my head held high. I reached the top and continued my journey down the strip still feeling my body tingling with embarrassment. I should have known better. I shouldn’t have been strutting. I shouldn’t have been feeling so proud and pleased with myself. I should have known I was going to crash for being so…
“Hey, hey, Red,” I suddenly heard a voice call. “Hey, Red!” I looked away from my thoughts now and noticed a homeless man standing directly in front of me. He was wearing torn denim shorts and a stained brown plaid button door shirt that was hanging open to display his thin bony chest. His long hair was clumped together with dirt and his long goatee was braided to a point at his chin. “Oh, God,” I groaned inwardly as my body still ached from the fall, “what now?”
“This is for you, Red,” the man said as he suddenly turned and jumped onto a short concrete pillar. He sat on the pillar as the fountains of the Bellagio Hotel suddenly burst into action. Large streams of water suddenly sprayed up and danced in time to the music from Phantom of the Opera.
The homeless man didn’t miss a single movement or beat as he waved his hands around in time to the music. I was suddenly captivated by this man, drawn helplessly into his fantasy. As I watched his movements, I truly believed he was conducting a massive water orchestra. Every few seconds, the man turned around and smiled at me as I stood on the sidewalk. At the end of the performance, he jumped down off the pillar and bowed elegantly to me before taking his place again on the sidewalk with the rest of the people who were begging for handouts. I smiled then as I walked down the strip to the Mirage Hotel.
Once inside the Secret Garden, I stood before the cage of the white tigers. Two of the tigers were perched up on a low tree branch as they lazily passed away the sunny afternoon. One of the tigers was staring directly at me. I was so mesmerized by this creature, I couldn’t turn away. I felt so connected to this amazing animal as we continued to make direct contact. The whole universe existed within his round dark eyes. “It’s the hair,” I suddenly heard a voice say. I turned around to look at the trainer who was standing next to me. The young man smiled at me and said, “The tiger is fascinated with your red hair.” I smiled then and felt a light blush tinge my cheeks as I slowly pulled myself away from the front of the cage.
I walked over to the dolphin habitat then. While most people were crowded around the large tank where several trainers were working with three dolphins, I stood next to the second smaller tank, playing with two young dolphins. I watched in awe as the animals jumped out of the water and spun in the air. Several times, the dolphins pushed their gray shiny bodies up on the dock directly in front of me. “See,” a trainer whispered from behind me, “they like you. They’re showing off for you.”
I was actually deeply happy then. I smiled with my heart because now I truly understood the purpose of this day. Maybe I was never meant to get married and settle down. Maybe I was never meant to have a husband and family. Maybe the dog and the house were out of my reach. My life consists instead of jumping dolphins, mesmerizing white tigers, and a homeless man who conducts water symphonies for me. My life is pure and joyful. I am truly blessed.