Last year, I spent a ridiculous chunk of my autumn in Sin City. Four days for Blog World Expo, and nine days for SEMA and some associated events for a client. Thirteen days, between the middle of October and the middle of November, I spent in Las Vegas last year.
I’ve been wondering how to approach this particular story, and I think now that the best place to start is, I hate Las Vegas.
But I didn’t know that last year. Last year, I’d only been to Las Vegas once, the previous year, for Pubcon. And my husband came along for that trip, we hung out with his family, I got to try Spam musubi (!), it was a much shorter trip, and we went together to see a show with topless classic rock vampires.
(Don’t judge me, people. How many dollars have you plunked down to see male topless vampires in the Twilight movies, and they didn’t even have decent music.)
I found out last week that I don’t have to go to Las Vegas at all this fall. This news came mixed with some bad news, but I was quite frankly, delighted about the “no Vegas” part.
I’ve been trying to figure out a way to describe what was going on with me last year, and what’s different now.
Louisa Mae Alcott was a ridiculously smart lady.
The best explanation requires that you’ve read Little Women, and remember the chapter Meg Goes to Vanity Fair.
The oldest March girl goes away for two weeks to stay with her wealthy, worldly friend. She doesn’t get “corrupted” by modern standards. But by the time the party rolls around that’s the highlight of the trip, she’s wearing a borrowed, low-cut dress and high heels, drinking champagne and flirting shamelessly. Which amounted to perfectly normal behavior for wealthy, upperclass Massachusetts girls at the time, but was completely out of character for Meg.
Last fall, I didn’t get thoroughly corrupted, but I acted out of character for myself.
In case you’re wondering, I didn’t end up in any Mad Men-like compromising situations. Sorry to disappoint anyone who was hoping for a juicy confessional here.
Like Meg, I just followed my envy to its inevitable dead-end conclusion in a lot of ways. I looked at my more “successful” peers and decided to try the “fake it till you make it” thing. I pushed to attend a conference I didn’t really need, because “all the top social media people attend it.” I got into parties at the clubs you can’t get into without knowing someone. I drank more than I should have. I dressed differently and spent money I didn’t really have on clothes (although considering my total lack of fashion sense, I probably still didn’t dress stylishly). I hung out with the “cool kids” of social media. I probably flirted a lot (although I’m a horrible judge of what constitutes flirting, never having been a single adult.)
Which is all perfectly normal, socially-acceptable behavior for business women. Yet totally out of character for the person I’ve been most of my life and not really consistent with my own values and beliefs. Mostly it was, to quote Solomon, “chasing after the wind.”
I went to Vanity Fair, and got my head turned. Like Meg, some of it was fun. It was fun hearing people say “I love your blog!”
Also, if I never left my comfort zone, I would work from home in my good day pajamas every day, and stay completely caught up on Chuck, Castle and Grey’s Anatomy. And I’d miss learning that I really, really like nice restaurants. Like, restaurants that aren’t part of a chain and aren’t located at every interstate exit.
My stomach had a GREAT time last year. Just to be honest. My stomach was not even SLIGHTLY homesick, even in Vegas. Other kinds of sick, yes (see also: drank too much, above). But me and fine dining made a serious love connection which my finances will probably be regretting for the rest of my life.
I learned who I’m not interested in being last year. I’m not interested in doing the “public speaking circuit,” although I do like teaching.
I’m not interested in red velvet rope parties; although I did learn that I like being around people more than I thought.
I love delicious food and beverages, including adult beverages. But neither one in excess.
I like travel, but I love being home more.
Okay. Let’s clarify that last one a little. I love being home more now.
Last year, that wasn’t the case. In fact, part of last year was about following envy, but another big part of it was running away. I’ve been learning for months now that these two echoing themes in my life, for my whole life.
But the running away part, and why and how that changed, is a story for another day, perhaps.