Saturday, November 05, 2005


When I was 18, I started college as so many high school graduates do. I took what I thought would be my first steps into the world to stake my claim and make myself a career. I remembered feeling like a toddler who was just beginning to walk on his own. Little hands no longer clutched the fingers of a proud parent who walked just behind helping less and less for balance. As fate would have it, on my first orientation day, I met Andy.

Andy was from a bit north of Cincinnati from a small town with little more than 3 stop lights. His simple understandings of complex rationales made people feel comfortable. Fortunately, Andy ended up being not only in my dorm, but living about 5 doors down. Time passed, we got older, eventually we moved out of the dorms only to move in together and share and apartment, and later a house.

We both turned 21 within a little less than a month of one another, and it had always been a published fact in my family that there was to be a trip to Las Vegas, the coolest city in the world, in the summer following my birthday. It only made sense that Andy come along. So, in August of 2001, we embarked on a voyage out west.

For 4 days we were flooded with sensory overloading stimulation. Sights, sounds, smells, tastes, things we would see and say "Well now I've seen everything" only to walk a few hundred feet to stand corrected. But one evening, as we were playing blackjack and considering walking outside to see the Waters of Bellagio, I heard a dull rumble over the commotion of the casino. It sounded vaguely like the crash of bowling pins, but a bit more drawn out. Pushing it from my mind, I focused my attention on the game at hand and my whoping five-dollar bet out on the felt of the table. Nothing but high rollers in this joint. Naturally, the dealer would fill several hands in a row, and with an apologetic smile, thought it in her best interests to take all my chips.

Being dead broke for the moment, Andy and I pressed outside and moved down the strip to take in the dancing waters, when my attention was broken again by a similar rumble. This time it was more definitive and Andy noticed it to. As we took up our positions along the packed street before the megacasino, I began to hear what sounded like rain falling very hard on concrete, only to look up, and see none. We felt nothing, but the hot evening air, but the sound was unmistakable. It was rain, but the ground was dry. It was as if the rain were evaportaing before it hit the ground.

As I glanced to my left down the strip I saw the glistening gold pannels of the Mandalay Bay casino reflecting the setting sun. Loosing all interest in the water before me, the hotel captivated my attention when a shocking bright light burst across the reflection of the sunset and was gone. It happened again, and again, and again, almost simultaneously. A few people around us noticed to it but paid little mind. It wasn't until after all bursts had dissipated that I realized it had been lightning. It had been a brief lightning storm over the middle of the desert, a place that by definition only gets 10 or less inches of rain a year. I lost $500 in 3 days and left content that I saw something that few people would ever see or at least notice.

This was more than 4 years ago, and 2 of those years I have been out of school. It's been even longer than that since I sat and spoke with Andy, in spite of having lived together. His life took him one way, mine took me another, neither of us agreeing with what the others had to offer. He's married now, with a child. At least one that I know of anyway. I miss my friend. I long to see him, to sit and talk with him as though we were still 20 years old with nothing better to do then sit around and figure out how, with 9 months to go, we could negotiate our way in to a place that we had to be 21 gain admittance. But I wonder if now, he remembers then? And the brilliance of a bolt of lightning in the least likely place.


Anonymous CCC said...


7:45 AM  
Anonymous Abby said...

I often wonder about the people I have shared significant experiences with and lost contact with for one reason or another. I wonder if they think about the experience or if that time even ment as much to them as it does to me. Of course, there could be moments I hold no accord with that stand as defining moments in others lives. Very deep and insiteful.

4:57 PM  
Anonymous ericka said...

You were right. Simply amazing.

11:00 PM  

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