I was born around the time cool houses in Las Vegas boasted swimming pools shaped like guitars and sparkles in their ceilings. I would not discover this for several decades, having sprung into being on the outskirts of Chicago. It would be years before I learned about slot machines, the Rat Pack, or even Elvis Presley. Even by the time I finished college, all I knew about Las Vegas was that you could get a cheap prime rib dinner on the Strip on your way to Zion. Beyond that, the place held no appeal. I don’t come from a smoking-and-gambling kind of family. “Sin City” was something to look down on.
Honoring familial respect for the classics, I studied Greek and Latin in school. I spent time in Italy and Greece visiting ancient sites and soaking up the wonders of the past. Not surprisingly, I taught Latin after that. I was following a well-worn, well-regarded path grounded in the past and heading toward a predictable future.
Life has a way of disregarding maps, though. My first marriage imploded. My new husband and I had just celebrated our third anniversary when our house burned down. Suddenly “stuffless,” I focused less on the wonders of the past and pondered the possibilities my own future held.
Long story short, I went from talking about Caesar’s Rome to gawking at Caesars Palace in the space of about seven years. My first book was published during that time. Roads from the Ashes is a memoir about living on the road for six years after all my earthly possessions went up in smoke. I started my first novel. Eager to add detail beyond the stereotypical, I visited Las Vegas to do some research. I’m still here, nearly twenty years later.
While I could never have predicted that life would introduce me to Las Vegas and that Las Vegas would beguile me into staying, it is now my favorite bit of serendipity. My adopted city, which reinvents itself at least once a decade, provides me with more stories than I could ever hope to tell. Guitar-shaped swimming pools are now “historic.” Elvis has a shrine. “Sin City,” the same place I grew up disdaining, fascinates me with its unique history and unpredictable evolution every day.
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