From one desert to another

Signs you’ve acclimated to the desert: you walk out of your Las Vegas hotel, feel the dry, 110 degree air on your bare, sunscreened arms and neck, and think, That feels so good. I couldn’t stand being in that climate-controlled air another moment.

Additional signs: you want to shove bottles of water and sunscreen into the hands of your fellow tourists on the strip, who aren’t acclimated and have the dazed look of the dehydrated, to explain to them that they need to take it slower and take more breaks and spend more time in that climate-controlled air.

I was in Vegas visiting my Mom, who was–still is–in Vegas for the Teamsters International Convention. Mom is president of her Teamster’s local–not the only woman in such a role, but one of the few–and as such, a delegate to the convention. It was very cool to see her in full work mode. She’s doing good things there, and has been for some years now.

The last time I met her up there for a conference was about five years ago, so it was also cool to see how much the demographics of the Teanmsters seem to have changed in that time. Five years ago, the Teamsters looked–to me, with my outsider eyes, anyway–very much like a good old boys club. Five years later, they looked very different: many more women; many more young people in general. The Teamsters even now have a GLBT Caucus, which I thought a very good thing indeed.

Got to spend some time walking the strip while Mom was in sessions, and to think again about what a strange place that part of Vegas is. I found I preferred the smaller hotels and casinos and shops, which weren’t quite so cut off from the larger world. When you go into one of the big theme hotels–you get so cut off, with no windows and only fake painted skies overhead–that it makes me uneasy. I need my sun, and my sense of day and night and air flow. It’s interesting to be reminded how much I need them. It’s also interesting to see how, yes, we humans really can create self-contained communities that never touch the outside world, at least until the water runs out–because this is still the desert.

My Mom looks out at Vegas and thinks about how amazing it is that so many jobs were created pretty much in the middle of nowhere. I look out there and wonder where the water’s going to come from. Neither of us is wrong, I think.

And now I’m home, back in my own desert, after a descent through turbulent summer storm skies, to a city that smelled very much of recent rain.

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