When I woke up Monday morning, I had a few texts asking me if I was okay. I live in Brooklyn, New York. I sat back down on my bed and took a minute or so to try and remember my dreams. Did I hear a loud noise? My window was open to let hoodie weather in. No, I don’t think anything happened outside my bedroom window. Did I sleep through my city getting attacked again? Let’s ask Facebook.
The first post on my news feed was a photo, that I am sure everyone has seen by now. Of a dark Mandalay Bay, with the text “Pray For Las Vegas” on it.
I feel like I dramatically clutched my chest and gasped aloud. Las Vegas!? What the hell happened to Las Vegas? For this one, I went to Google. There was a mass shooting in Las Vegas. Without any conscious thought, my first reaction was to feel relief. Then I felt disgust with myself for being relieved that it was only a mass shooting. Then I morphed to wondering what caused such monster behavior in my brain. That’s when I realized that I have been awake for ten seconds and I thought my city blew up while I slept.
This is the world we live in right now. A world where people (hi, me) read tons of travel websites and see the now predictable reactions to terrorist attacks. People wondering if they should cancel upcoming trips, and so on. Because this is our lives now. There are typical responses to mass murders because there are so many mass murders that we have developed typical responses.
There are also practical responses. For example, there was me, who still hadn’t fully gotten out of bed yet, now having to jump up and run through a mental check list of social media and scheduled blog posts. I am currently in the middle of posting about my last trip to Las Vegas. My next post was automatically scheduled to be live in just half an hour. I need to hurry up NOW to log onto my laptop and stop the post from going live. I need to delete all the prescheduled tweets about “YAY LAS VEGAS” that are going out today. I am rushing around like a maniac. I am running late. I haven’t even peed yet. I have to finish this and leave for work. I need to respond and tell everyone who asked that no, I am not in Las Vegas. Yes, I am alive. These are the tiniest real life actions that are happening because of this ginormous tragedy.
I have been asked if the Las Vegas attack will change anything about me going to Las Vegas. Of course it won’t. Why would it? I live in a city that was attacked by terrorists. Why would I now suddenly avoid a city that was attacked by a lone gunman who is now dead?
But you know what, underneath all that obviousness, lies a second truth. And that truth is that it will slightly alter my next trip.
Back in March, I visited Mandalay Bay for the first time in many years. Oddly enough, my bus ride was detoured because of a shooting on the Strip. I played once I got there and lost too much money too fast. Because of this, I cannot imagine I would have gone back there anytime soon. It never would have even crossed my mind to.
But I know that the next time I am in Las Vegas, I will think about this. I will think about that visit, I will think about the shooting that rerouted my bus. I will think about how 58 people died. It doesn’t matter if my not visiting this casino has nothing to do with this latest incident. What matters it that my trip will be changed because even if for a few minutes, I will be conscious of a tragic happening. I will be sad, I will feel horrible emotions. That is how my trip will change because of a lone gunman. That is how my life has changed since September 11. When I wake up to a text asking me if I am okay and I am suddenly fearing that I will pull my drapes back and see that everything outside has been reduced to rubble.
So will I go to Las Vegas again? Of course. Will my trips be different? YES. I will now have to walk through a metal detector to enter Wynn. I will crane my neck as we pass Mandalay Bay to see if the shooter’s windows have been replaced yet. I will think about people dying. I will feel grateful for being alive. My losses will not seem so bad as they will not include my life. My wins may be slightly less exciting when I go into deep thought, wondering if anyone who was murdered had the same elation without knowing they were about to be murdered.
Much like my post about September 11, I really do not know how to end this post. So I will just stop typing.