Now I don't give a shit. I also freely admit I never got over Bon Jovi. Just go ahead and shut the fuck up. I'm too old to care.
Within a few months of moving to California, I'd made my Reno accent go away. And then I moved to Oregon where it's a dirty taboo to be from California, so I put the Reno accent back on. This was when I was working at the food bank and directing people to their nearest food box agency. Most of them didn't take kindly to having their desperate food needs being seen to by a poncy over-educated California type. Speaking the Reno way was like putting on an old, dirty paint-stained pair of sweat pants that fit just right around the waist.
Now I don't know how I speak. I'm sure it's kind of weird, though. Too many years of proper enunciation and not using phrasal verbs for the non-native speakers. A few words from British English and I always hesitate before mentioning anything to do with pants. Language strangely locked into whatever was contemporary 10 years ago and I can't bring myself to start saying "awesome" again. Plus I talk to a kid a lot.
|$4.99 breakfast special, oh yeah. It came with Keno and a fortune cookie.|
Anyway, part of this trip home has involved a trip to Reno. I have family there, some of whom I haven't seen in years and some of them even longer than that. My cousins have kids that are grown up or growing up, with opinions and social lives and jobs and cell phones and stuff like that. Most of them have never seen my son.
This is what happens when you leave. And you just try to carry on like it's not such a big thing.
But it kind of matters. When we were all little and my grandparents were still alive, we hung out all the time, all the cousins and aunts and uncles. Eventually, people moved away and started doing other stuff and we didn't see everyone so much. One thing that always strikes me when we get together with that side of the family is how their faces and voices resonate so much with me, a weird kid feeling that just says, "Good! Comfort! Something fun is gonna happen!" and it feels fine, having everything back to an odd sort of normal that hasn't existed for over 30 years. To me, everyone looks and sounds exactly the same and it doesn't matter about the time and other stuff that has passed in between.
And then I got to see them having the same effect on my kid and that was cool.
|I debauched plenty here. When I was 8. It was cool.|
The radio in the rental car wasn't helping. Apparently, they haven't changed the radio music in Reno since I left there 25 years ago. It was all Whitesnake and Aerosmith and Bonnie Tyler and Air Supply and Ah-Ha. I was completely cool with that, believe you me.
But it didn't take long for all that to wear off. Reno has even less spirit left than I do. The depression has hit Nevada a lot harder than most places, and apparently all the cool people are taking their gambling business to the Indian casinos elsewhere. On the strip, there were quite a few boarded-up retro-looking casinos, lots of grubby liquor stores, a bunch of pawnshops and places that buy gold, and one scabby, shuffling meth addict after another.
|Those bright lights are a pho restaurant.|
It was grim.
|A simple "No Loitering" would not cover the problem, apparently.|
|Retro, and sort of chic but also not because it's pay-by-the-week.|
But all the casinos we went into were desolate. Few things in the world are sadder than a desolate casino.
|This hotel is retro sad. It's not feeling the love anymore for sure.|
Oddly enough, many of them seem to have opted for natural lighting during the day, and you could actually hear the piped-in Elton John and Erasure. "They're pandering to your age group," my dad told me as we passed an empty beer pong display. Apparently, my age group has way better things to do. Most of the scattered gamblers weren't a day under 75. The few that were younger were either scabby junkies getting cautiously eyed up by lurking security guards, or people who looked like their lives would be a lot more enjoyable if they'd gone the scabby junkie route.
"WTF is beer pong?" asked my dad.
I wondered how they could even afford the electricity to run these places.
|It's 10pm on the strip. Uh-oh.|
|Not much better by day.|
|We'll try to get you here by offering to let you win something useful!|
|Remember the glory days? When FRANK SINATRA Jr. played here?|
|This is Reno-ese for "Early Bird Special." Because you can be sure there was no fun going on after dinner.|
And honestly, I'm having trouble writing about this whole visit because now I know exactly how many of my family members read the blog. It's not like there's anything bad to say about anyone that I can't be honest about. It's more that I have a lot of gushing that I want to do about how nice it was to catch up with everyone, and to talk about my cousin that died last winter, and I'm afraid I'll leave someone out and make them feel bad. So I'll just have to leave it at that. There were a great many things that affected me so much I can't bring myself to splash them all over the Internet. And despite my fixation on every depressing Reno image, it was a really good trip and I'm glad we went.
|Had no idea what a depressing place we went to because all the people we visited were so loving.|
I just don't know how to say it is all.