At one point during our Vegas trip we were loitering near a slot machine for too long and a security guard came and nicely told us we had to move along because kids aren’t allowed in the gaming areas, also on Sunday night Dylan had a dramatic reaction to guzzling about fifteen sodas throughout the day, so we told him if anyone asks how his vacation went he can honestly say “I barfed from drinking too much and got kicked out of a casino.”

Anyway: we had a really, really great time.

Highlights included Dylan riding the New York New York roller coaster with John (I stayed with Riley, who took one look at the track and said “Can I cuss for this one? A small cuss? Because oh helllllllllllll no”); eating a crappy dinner at the Rainforest Cafe where Dylan was legitimately, entertainingly freaked out by the animatronics; how “interesting” became the family code word for Vegas’s more outrageous sights (Riley, as a pigtailed lady wearing a bra, white leather fringe miniskirt, and thigh-high denim boots minced by: “Well, that was interesting”); walking the Strip at night in a sea of neon and putrid cigar smoke while Dylan performed a series of dances to the ever-changing music blasting from casino entrances and daiquiri bars; shouting and pounding the table during the Tournament of Kings show at Excalibur (when the villain appeared and threatened the kingdom, Dylan got carried away and angrily yelled “IN YOUR DREAMS!” then clapped his hands over his mouth); and all of our airport shenanigans (we had an endless layover in Portland and spent most of the time laughing about how Riley had panicked on an escalator and hurled his backpack to the bottom where it got caught up in the tread and spun around in a slow, dejected circle).

We also went on the High Roller ferris wheel, which was absolutely exhilarating. There was an older couple in our car with their adult son, and the dad kept staring intently at his phone as we ascended. I was thinking, really? I mean Facebook is great and all but have you tried looking at this jaw-dropping view? But then I heard the wife say, “Are you okay?” And he was like: “Nope!” When the ride was over, he told John they’d debated for an hour before getting on, and he’d been pants-shittingly terrified the whole time. So perhaps the High Roller isn’t for everyone, but we thought it was pretty great, even though you are trapped in a giant hamster ball for 30 minutes without a bathroom which, as Riley pointed out, instantly makes you highly aware of everything you’ve had to drink, like, ever.

All in all, a fairly perfect little family getaway. Thanks for always being awesome at every stage of my life, Las Vegas.

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The volunteer coordinator at hospice calls to see if I am interested in taking on a new patient. She reads off the case notes: an elderly woman with cancer, who lives in a care facility and likes books and board games. I think of all those quiet, lovely visits with P. Sure, I say.

I get the client info and call the woman’s daughter to set up the first visit, and as the phone rings I am picturing — well, I am picturing an immediate connection of some kind. I am imagining a lady dealing with a terrible situation who is so glad for someone who can also be with her ailing mom. I am thinking she is in need, and here I am wanting to be of service, and I can almost see this frail, barely-there patient and feel the stillness of her room, and I am pretty much convinced this is going to be a powerful, emotional phone call, and when she answers and I explain who I am, she says …

“Oh? Oh, I see. Well, I’m not sure how — I mean, gosh, Mom doesn’t really need anyone. She’s got all these activities at the center, she goes bowling on Fridays, she has lunch with friends. She’s super active, really. She’s obsessed with the Olympics so that’s about to take up a bunch of her time. Plus, honestly I think she might feel a bit … awkward? With a strange, no offense, visitor? But thank you so much anyway!”

I say goodbye, then sit by the phone blushing for a while. WELL.

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