Our family vacation in Vegas, has come to a screeching halt. Sunday’s always come too soon. Today we bid farewell to the wave pool and the illusionists, the comedians, the karaoke, the slot machines and the noise. It feels peaceful to be home, in my bed, in my city, with my friends and the familiarity I’ve worked hard to create and sustain for the past year and a half.

I think Vegas gets too harsh of a rap. It has me thinking about how many people and circles and political groups and religions have received labels they never agreed to. Documents that contain forged signatures at the bottom of every page, proclaiming lies about who they are and what they believe to be true. These tattoos they’ve been given, seem to endure because it’s much easier to suppress an idea than to comprehend it, to ignore a belief rather than inquire about it, to subside a desire, rather than dive deeper into what nurses it.

I don’t condone this. I don’t respect it. I don’t want to swim along in the current of a society that finds these habits as reasonable, and necessary. Exclusion is a a wretched game. So, I’m here to stand up for Vegas. I’m here to tell you I would never live there. I’m here to tell you I don’t agree with most things I witnessed. I’m here to announce I wish I could rewind much of the things I saw in order to dodge them the second time around. However, I’m also here to tell you I’m not any better than Vegas. Humans seem to always be in competition. It’s a defect, I’m sure of it.

I want to tell you I witnessed very beautiful and real moments in a place humans like to label, “sin city.” We were entertained by two illusionists who worked their entire lives in order to perform on the stage they stood on this weekend. I witnessed a man bring his mother up in front of the audience in order to publicly  praise her for life and support. We sat as a family around a crowded pool and were able to live an entire weekend without phone calls or work disturbances or appointments.

Amidst the glory, we fought. We were irritable. Sometimes we were sassy and hungry and lazy and tired and weak from the sun. Sometimes we were spoiled and disrespectful to one another and our needs. Traffic made for a few terrifying rides home in the dark.

But as we sat on the couches in grandma’s house on our last night, we reminisced on old memories. We huddled around one another in a living room filled with pillows and blankets and water bottles and sun soaked skin. We took turns reliving moments we’ve spent together. They were embarrassing and awkward and confusing and hilarious; all the things a good story should be. I watched the five of us frantically cackle over memories we won’t allow anyone to forget, and felt nothing but gratitude for, “sin city.”

During those moments sitting on and around the couches, I felt peace. I scanned the room and saw evident battles and insecurities and open space waiting patiently for growth and understanding, but I mostly saw a family who loved as best they could. A family built on years of mistakes and forgiveness and second chances and grace. I saw, and I still see, a family who has a long journey ahead. But I take pride in our ability to rejoice in making it to here, now, today. We’re a band of misfits. A gang of fighters and survivors. The greatest team I’ve ever known.

So, to you Vegas, thank you. I won’t label you. I won’t disrespect you or pretend I’m better than you because we do life a bit differently. I appreciate your time. I see beauty in you. I see dreamers and warriors. I see people who want to understand this world a bit better.

I see our family. And I’m enjoying the view.



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