I was born in Vegas. A few years ago, my partner took me there for a weekend of silly extravagance to celebrate my birthday. My grandmother lived there when I was young. I saw ET with her at the Omnimax when I was 9. My cousins marveled grandma's energy (It was 2am and she wanted to find a place to go dancing and we were TIRED, they exclaimed. They were 20 years old, she was 70ish.) My grandmother passed away in the buffet line at the Silver Slipper Casino. The story is she turned to the guy behind her, smiled, and fell over from a stroke. It seems like how she would have wanted it. It was her favorite place. I loved the ice carved slipper they had on the buffet line. It felt magical.
My partner and I spent a weekend there early on in our relationship, celebrating another friend's birthday. We saw Ka together. My ex-wife and I went there to see Melissa Ethridge in concert. It was weird and uncomfortable and awesome. My then gf gambled a quarter and won $40. She's always been lucky.
I've ridden the New York Hotel roller coaster. I thought Circus Circus was all that when I was little. My ex-husband and I were entranced by the dancing fountains at the Bellagio when we visited in college. My step-mom loved to shop there. She and my dad lived a couple of hours away. Her house was full of sparkle found in outlet malls in Vegas. I hated the way my hands smelled like cigarette smoke almost the moment I walked into a casino. I loved the cheap buffets.
My cousin lives there. I texted her after the shootings. Isis claimed responsibility. The police say they can't find a motive. What does motive tell us? It shapes the story into a narrative meant to comfort us. Oh, this happened because this person is x or y. Next, combine it with ever increasing restrictions on liberty and invasive search procedures. Eventually the motive will be connected to something culturally expendable, something agreed to be 'other'. This will help with profiling, another way to feel safe. Only minorities or immigrants or ... something not 'us' would do this. Does it matter the shooter was a (seemingly middle class) white man? So, definitely 'us'. It matters to me. It matters to me because the fiction of 'not us' doesn't serve our country. It doesn't keep us safe to pretend only 'other' people do horrible things.
It hasn't worked. The invasive searches, the racial profiling, the restrictions on liberty, the ethnic profiling, the religious profiling- it hasn't stopped the violence. Who benefits when we fear each other so much? Not us. Not our communities. Not our poor, hungry, sick, tired, black, immigrants, disabled, hispanic, white, working class, middle class, women, men, straight, gay ... not the majority of us.Not our kids. Not my neighbors. Not me.
As country, we respond with outrage and sorrow. We mourn the loss, the waste, the violence. Maybe we will react and demand stronger gun laws or better care for the mentally ill. I hope we do. What we have done, rage and blame, hasn't worked.
I hope my cousin is okay. My heart is with everyone suffering and watching loved ones fight for their lives.