As I look back on seven months of pictures and memories, my heart is full. I’m happy. Spring and summer have passed. And I’m hopeful that 115 degree temperatures have, too. Fall time in Las Vegas is currently 73 degrees and sunny. It’s a serene place. The loud, seldom noises are school buses and garbage trucks driving through the neighborhood. The birds are chirping. I actually listen for the birds–I shock myself sometimes.
I’ve been writing this blog post in my head ever since Mandi visited for her birthday in April. I planned on writing one post each month, highlighting visitors, home projects and work updates (oh the people I’ve met and the things they say!). And now it’s October. With the help of a tad more coffee maybe? And some Trader Joe’s chocolate covered peanut butter pretzels, I just might be able to do this…
“What brings you to Vegas?”
…people ask me lots of questions throughout my work day. This has to be the most frequent one. And on some days my answers do change. But my truest answer today is “curiosity”. For many years I’ve wondered if I could live in Las Vegas and what my life would look like here. I just never thought I could do it (no ocean, no way).
“How could you leave a place like San Diego?”
For that one, my answer has stayed consistent: “I can always move back.” No big deal there.
My job, by the way, is also something I’ve been curious about–being a poolside cocktail server. My favorite thing to do in Las Vegas has always been relaxing by the pool (shopping, a close second). It was actually a year ago this month, that I ‘accidentally’ gave it some serious thought. Nate and I were at the Luxor spending a few days with my sister and my nephew and I couldn’t help but observe the servers there. They were spending all day at the pool, just like I planned on doing, but they were getting paid for it! It was less of a sense of jealousy, and more of an “I can do that, too!” a-HA moment. And as soon as I noticed those words in my head, the seed was planted.
It wasn’t until three months later that I decided this would be my next adventure. January 2015 and making decisions! Many thoughts and ideas would come and go, but when I came back around to this one, it was game ON. And if I haven’t mentioned it already, having the support of your best friend helps immensely. Reading the text, “DO it!!!” Sharing in the excitement–the best.
With the rush of butterflies in planning something new, I also feared it like no other. In March, two days before my first day of work, I got nauseous and my brain flooded with negative thoughts: this job won’t be as fun as I think…the guests are going to pick me apart…who am I to wear a swimsuit for a work uniform…I’m not perfect enough…what have I done….RUN before it’s too late!!
With any new job, I’m sure that no matter how much training and experience you have, there will still be those times that you simply don’t know and won’t know everything. Oh we hate that, don’t we?! Can’t we skip over all the uncomfortable parts and land safely in the womb of comfort?! Joke’s on us. That will never happen. Well, unless we stay hidden in our comfort zones and miss life completely. Otherwise, keep moving towards the fear and learn to laugh at oneself along the way. Everything will work out. It always does!
Emily Becker, I have to say! It was your supportive and encouraging text the day before starting this new job that helped ease my anxiety. I will not forget the moment of letting those fearful thoughts pass and the new feeling of welcoming and believing your encouraging words. And now, as I needed the extra push to write and reflect on all of this, you inspired me with this:
~write about how connections can be short, but very important~
Indeed, my sweet Emmers! Connection…
“How long will you be staying with us?”
Tomorrow. Everyone leaves tomorrow. And if it’s not tomorrow, they are leaving sometime soon. People come to Vegas for 3-4 days. A week if they’re crazy enough and close to two weeks if they’re from Europe. That’s the layout. Coming into this city and to this job, it sounded perfect to me. People coming and going. After all, I wasn’t looking for anything but a whole bunch of “me” time. I was overdue to be self-focused and nobody was going to get in the way of that.
Oh you know there’s a twist…
It didn’t take long–hardly a month after I moved here–one of my first tastes of disappointment or better yet: a tug on the ol’ heart strings. My friend Steve aka “Stomps” was coming to town from Salt Lake City.
We met back in 2008 when Mandi and I moved to NW Portland. His business partner talked us into stepping inside their bar one quiet Wednesday evening when we were exploring our new neighborhood on foot. Not big drinkers since our wild 20s were beginning to mellow out, Stomps (maybe reluctantly) served us the glasses of water and made us the BEST nachos for the next six months or so. Then we all started parting ways from Portland, but never lost contact.
So it’s March 2015. Stomps comes to town with a few of his musically talented buddies (highly recommend checking out Matt Lewis Band–a few of his songs are staples in my yoga playlists!) and we meet at…the pool! This is the start of my new adventure? Catching up with old friends, sharing laughs poolside and okay, maybe a tasty drink in hand this time? Life was good. Simple. Easy! All sunshine and palm trees. I could get used to this. As the day progressed, my roommate Alli was able to meet up with us and join in on the fun. We even made new friends thanks to Stomps’ outgoing personality. A group of guys from Ohio on their annual golf trip, ranging in age from 25-60 years old. I remember laughing SO hard because one of the 60 year old (sweet-as-pie) fathers had one too many drinks and was really starting to embarrass his 25 year old son. Laughing is my favorite. I can’t help it. Before I knew it, we were all friends heading to Hakkasan together to tear up the dance floor. And that we did.
Remember what I said though? Everyone leaves ‘tomorrow’. Our Ohio friends flew out the next day. Good-byes were inevitable. And soon after, Stomps and his buddies would hit the road back to SLC. I felt my first taste of hating good-byes and I hadn’t even started my first day of work yet (that would be March 28th)! Spring and summer were still in front of me and that’s when I knew I was in for a roller coaster ride. This was only the beginning. I’m an empath. I feel. Period. I already had visitors scheduled to arrive for the next couple of months and if it was this easy to make new friends, I would be saying more good-byes, heart-felt good-byes, than I imagined. This was about to be a good lesson in loving (the Present moment) and letting go.
“You may think something is too great to let go, but sometimes greater things can only happen after you let go.”
My mantra during this time: smile because it happened. Be grateful. Keep moving forward.
My first weekend at work was a blast. It was crazy! No one really knew what they were doing–all of us servers were brand new to the computer system. I had to ask for help so often from the bartenders that I was genuinely apologizing with almost every order. Thank goodness they were all so helpful and most of them had a sense of humor, too! It was a zoo, but we somehow managed to get drinks to the crowds of thirsty people for eight straight hours. Not even a bathroom break. Who knew that if you make customers wait long enough, they’ll start chanting your name and erupt in joyful cheering when they see you coming? For that, for them, I was so grateful!
I think I’ve always been a believer that all humans have hearts–good hearts. No matter how they act, no matter what they hide or portray, there is goodness deep down. And yet, it still baffles me that day after day, working this job, my guests are some of THE nicest people. I will be driving home after an 8-hour workday and I’ll be beaming from my interactions with guests. It’s so unlike my introvert ways. I’ve seriously second-guessed myself, wondering if I really am an introvert. Could I be…?…an extrovert? And then a few days ago, I was at home cleaning when the doorbell rang and it scared the crap out of me. With a pounding heart, I tiptoed straight to my room and reassured myself, definitely an introvert. No chance in answering the door.
Some other noteworthy and frequent questions on the job (and some I like more than others):
*Why are you here? You must be a college student. *How old are you…twenty-seven? *Let me guess, tennis player? Volleyball player? *Will you marry me? *Your go-to workout must be… *Are you married?…kids?
I actually had a group of women from Atlanta erupt with cheering when I told them I wasn’t married and didn’t have any kids. They thought that was the best news and were SO happy for me. “Live your life, guuuurrl–do your thang!” It still makes me crack up just thinking about it.
In the mornings on my way to work, I would be excited thinking about who I could possibly get to meet that day. Whether it was another nice couple from North Carolina or an older gentleman that I’d spend 45 minutes talking to about Punta del Este, Uruguay. A place that we had both been to and shared our different experiences from there. And if I wasn’t looking forward to those possibilities, I would be excited about simply spending the day with my co-workers. As frustrating as some days could be, when things just weren’t flowing well no matter how hard you try, I had these people to laugh with. And on the flipside, when my guests were perfect angels, but my bartenders were driving me nuts, you KNOW we’ve become family! At the end of the day, that means so much more than a paycheck.
My initial plan was to add in a few yoga classes per week. I love teaching and I do miss it. But it’s not something I’m going to force either. Reflecting on my time here in Las Vegas, it has actually been the best yoga practice of my life. I roll out my mat at home and I’ve come across a studio that caught my interest for a few weeks, but the real yoga has been every day that I wake up–going to work, interacting with guests, co-workers, strangers I pass along the way. Continuing on as a team player, even when I think I would run things very differently. Having patience. Being graceful even when it seems like it’s the last thing I want to do. Devoting myself to the present moment and who is in front of me (how can I serve you?). And oh those days when I have to close my eyes and remind myself to stop, breathe in and breathe out before I absolutely lose it. All of this is why we step onto our mats to practice. So we can use it in our every-day lives.
This is the connection. As fleeting as some connections appear to be, the energy and all the magic is in the present moment. When I shy away from it or wish that it were different–wish I were in a different place, it feels like I’m battling the whole world. But when I open up to it and devote my full attention, wonderful things really do happen!
I’ve met wonderful people who I won’t ever see again. And I’m better at being okay with that now. I’ve had a solid seven months of practice! Hello, good-bye. Repeat. And I’ve met wonderful people who I’ll make a point to see again because it seems like I’ve know them my whole life. But it’s impossible to have known them–they’re from Germany, Argentina, Spain, Czech Republic, Mexico! Maybe some connections are simply meant to be short. And some are supposed to turn into life-long friendships.
I think a genuine connection, short or long-term, adds Light to this world. And maybe that’s the whole point. When we exchange smiles, treat each other with respect, take notice of our similarities, share a laugh together…it’s a great feeling. Simple, yet profound. And no matter what, ever-lasting.
I had one guest, on the day he was leaving, tell me that the Native Americans don’t have a word for good-bye. (Now I don’t know if that’s true but I was really interested in what he was saying as soon as he said “Native Americans”.) He continued to say that ‘they believe once you meet someone, you’re forever connected to them’. I liked that. I liked that a lot!
“The greatest hindrance in our spiritual life is that we will only look for big things to do.” –Oswald Chambers
“Respond to every call that excites your spirit.” –Rumi