Nowhere to go
I sat and stared at the latte until the foam sunk through to the coffee and left a mess of dried milk around the edges of the white paper cup. It was the kind of day when the nutrition of skim milk was too good for me, and if I was to consume anything it should be mostly made of sugar so that I could get a little high on dopamine while doing nothing good for my body. The kick would be just strong enough for me to remember that I was capable of accomplishing at least one thing off of my task list, but it was never strong enough to hold me accountable. It was the kind of day when I hated myself for having everything I needed in life to be content, and yet, surrounded by a world full of people with real reasons to feel discontent, all I could do was stare at my latte.
My head hurt. The light in this café was bright. There were too many windows. The guy next to me was rambling on about the profoundness of his own lame art while the guy who sat across from him played with his food. Some urban indie rock was gently pressing out of the speakers above our heads. Normally, I loved Inspire. Today, I wanted to burn it down. And yet, I couldn’t move. My feet, glued to the floor, my ass, magnetized to the cold metal chair.
Downtown Vegas has an energy that I usually find comforting. Urban, interesting, full of tourists and locals equally, not gentrified enough to have sterilized the streets, the cycles of oppression played out like this: urban professionals at the top of the economic food chain, but everyone (even themselves, like me) kind of hates them because they (we) are clueless about the struggle and often strive for bliss through ignorance; there’s the service professionals who work their asses off for garbage pay, but their vengeance is in their I-don’t-give-a-shit attitude; followed by the starving artists (who may also be service professionals) who stiff the service professionals and covet the wealth of the urban professionals while simultaneously bitching about both; then there are the homeless, whose struggles are inhumanely minimized by most; and last but not least the tourists—on whom we all unabashedly prey.
The great circle of life, I thought to myself. A circle in which I wished I was an artist, had worked my way out of being a service professional, romanticized the freedom of the homeless, barely tolerated my own status as an urban professional and loved to laugh at the tourists. No wonder I couldn’t gather the energy to move; where the hell was I supposed to go?
I grabbed a weekly magazine that had been lying on the table behind me, looking to distract myself from my own idiocy, and after skimming an article about First Friday, I started to daydream about it. All these folks from the great circle of life come together except for the tourists (at least not many of them), and the artists are celebrated. I imagined it to be a mini post-scarcity world in which the homeless can pass easily among the housed, and the food vendors are generous with those who can’t afford to pay. Where those who have dreamt forever of the eternal success of their small business move into the black from the red, and we stuffy professionals are moved by a piece of art to a new emotional space where we realize how wrong we were, how much we have and why we should start by being grateful for being alive.
I’m startled out of my utopian dream by a swift kick to my chair. The artist next to me was apparently miming what he does in his sleep, flailing his arms and legs about wildly. Somehow, this is part of the origin of his art. If only we all could be so lucky. Suddenly, I felt the momentum to move and I stood up, tossed my latte in the garbage and grabbed my backpack to go.
Amelia Pond is Nevada native who works and writes in downtown Las Vegas. She spends her free time exploring the Mojave and the world via bare feet and cargo ships. You can read her real-life adventures on medium.com/@ameliaraepond.