Necessary Evils

We love living in Maine. But sometimes it’s good to get another perspective. Last month we flew across the country to Las Vegas. My husband worked his way through college in a variety of ways, one of which was playing poker with his unsuspecting (and richer) fraternity brothers.  He is still testing his skills even if he now needs glasses to see the numbers on the cards, and enjoys playing in tournaments when he can. There aren’t many (any) of those in Franklin County, so the bullet occasionally has to be bitten and the plane boarded.

We’ve been to Sin City together so many times, I’ve lost count; first as chaperones to 39 teens on a summer bus tour for 39 days from Denver to New Orleans, and then with our own four kids after exploring the West’s natural wonders. Now I usually read and write during our visits, and lounge by the pool wondering why the music is awful and awfully loud.

Las Vegas is justifiably famous for its tackiness and excesses so I need not pile on, and it’s ecologically egregious. But we enjoy it anyway. There are a few more restaurants to be found there than in Farmington, and the people-watching can’t be beat. (Sooo many inventive tattoos, piercings, and dubious bathing suits. My very proper grandmother would faint dead away if she wasn’t already dead.)

It was very, very hot when we were there, so hot (110+) that my Kindle and phone refused to work as I tried to sit outside. Without my devices, what was I to do? Slot machines are for suckers. (I speak from personal experience.) One can only drink so many strawberry daiquiris without face-planting on the scorching concrete. The heat of the metal bars to the pool steps probably burned off my fingerprints, so perhaps a life of true crime is in my future. Maggie the Murderess.

Who would I knock off? All the people who travel with “carry-on” luggage. I can’t tell you how many times I was hit on the head and shoulders on the airplane by people who were apparently fleeing to/from Nevada/Boston with everything single thing they owned. Crammed backpacks. Spilling-over shopping bags. Suitcases that were obviously way too big for the overhead bin. I had a medium tote with wallet, medication, laptop, Kindle, phone, hairbrush, lipstick, and spare underwear. My own carry-on-sized bag was checked. It was so expertly packed that only one shirt and one pair of shorts remained unworn, and I had absolutely everything I required. I bought nothing but a tube of sunblock and a cute pink T-shirt for the youngest granddaughter.

I did change my clothes each day, but really, who would have cared? I am never going to see any of those people again except my husband, and after 52 years I can tell you he does not notice my outfits except to fib and tell me I look great.

How much stuff do you need for a week away anyway? How much stuff do you need, period? Maybe because I’m old and cranky, I look at the crap people surround themselves with and shudder. Mind you, I could do with someone coming to our house to get rid of our own tackiness and excesses. My desk alone would provide a professional organizer with a considerable challenge.

But I look at the sentimental objects that “help” me write, and I get a little more forgiving of those who travel terribly. Maybe they really need the four pairs of lucky hooker shoes and the giant stuffed panda and their favorite pillow in its dirty pillowcase. I need my lemon-scented candle, pictures of the grandkids, two ceramic pigs, a fingerpainting, a vintage postcard, an antique perfume bottle, and an old Mother’s Day card.

But I left them at home.

Do you have a favorite vacation spot? Do you write when you’re away? (To my shame, I didn’t. I blame the lack of candle. And the daiquiris.) Any travel/packing tips to share? What’s on your desk?

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10 Responses to Necessary Evils

  1. Mar Preston says:

    I enjoy your writing, no matter what you write about.

  2. John Clark says:

    First, an observation: Civilization started a downward trend with the onset of storage units. If you have so much stuff you need to shell out 75-150.00 bucks a month to keep stuff, you’re over the crap line.
    Our week in Washington County every year is the preferred vacation for Beth and I. We hike, go to library book sales, watch life on and in the ocean and while she kayaks, I read (12 books this year) No writing, but the near quiet allows for plenty of thoughts of a creative nature.
    I remember dropping psilocybin and playing the nickel slots way back in the 1960s in Vegas.

    • maggierobinsonwriter says:

      Oh John, you devil. I actually played penny slots this time. Your vacation sounds heavenly.

  3. jselbo says:

    Yes. good possibilities for MURDERS! The heat is why I left California. And the amount of people that keep growing and growing! Las Vegas – once a little place in the desert – now HUGE!

    • maggierobinsonwriter says:

      They do say the heat makes you crazy. Good for writing, LOL? I cannot imagine living out west–it’s just too open and mountainous for me. I feel insignificant. Still crazy, tho. 🙂

  4. kaitcarson says:

    Welcome back! I do write when I’m away – usually in a pretty journal where I write stream of consciousness stuff that I later cull through to see if anything is usable in my WIP or short story fodder. Of course, most of my notes involve items gleaned from people watching. What an endless joy!

    • maggierobinsonwriter says:

      I have the pretty journal, but it’s pretty much empty, LOL. People watching is so fascinating, isn’t it?

  5. Anonymous says:

    A book, a beer, and a beach make my perfect vacation. I can be flexible with everything but the book… must read, wherever I am, or whatever my cold beverage happens to be!

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