Sushil and I decided to go to Vegas for our one-year anniversary to see where I am from, and so he could continue the onslaught of introductions and backstories of my life. But first, to ease him in, we weekended in America's gem, San Francisco.
San Francisco is always lovely, and it was a lot of fun to show Sushil around and play tourist. Coming from India, he's not familiar with San Francisco's place in the (Western) gay psyche and our history, Harvey Milk, flower power or any of the images that come to the American mind in relation to the City by the Bay. For him it was just a beautiful, fun city, so Russ and I engaged him in brief lessons over cocktails and Orphan Andy's. We were only there Friday night to Monday, but we managed most of the Castro bars and main must-sees, including the required Summertime disappointment of trying to see the Golden Gate Bridge, and instead getting a wall of fog rolling in.
On the Fourth, it was off to my hometown to begin the whirlwind tour of new faces. For the anniversary itself we had dinner at the Venetian, a prototypical Strip casino with a faux urbanity modelled on its namesake, followed by Russ taking us to Cirque du Soleil's Mystère, which was awesome. From the next day we set into a pattern: lunch meeting someone, dinner meeting someone, cocktails. I gave Sushil the Coley tour with Fern, showing him where I lived for my first memories, and where I mostly grew up, as well as my last schools. It was great to introduce him to so many important people from my life, and it all culminated in a fantastic spread and drinks my friend PD laid out for us and some mutual high-school friends.
It was really weird at times to be showing Sushil around where I grew up. We'd be driving down streets and I'd have memories of how I felt as a teenager there, the angst, the weight of homophobia, how I wondered if I would ever get out, ever have sex, ever meet "the one" or even someone - and there'd be this man I'd met in Mumbai, and who lives with me in London, in the car next to me on those very same streets. Those two parts of my life seem so far apart, in every way, that it was sometimes surreal to have them overlap.
It was crazy hot, as Vegas Julys are, so Sushil got the full Mojave experience. He occasionally broke out in a light sweat, whereas my skin dried up, and my face turned red and flaked; there's definitely no Mediterranean mixed in with these genes. Fortunately, Russ views home acclimation much as I do, so there was very little time where I wasn't under a direct stream of air conditioning. But next time, I think I'll have to show Sushil what a desert Winter is like.
Viva Las Vegas,
The Transamerica Pyramid, just outside the House of Nanking, a favourite from my San Francisco days
Sushil learned first hand about San Francisco's permissive nudity laws.
I think there's something Papa Smurf's been hiding from us, but suddenly those red chaps make more sense...
Brunch with Belle and Spesh!
A real anniversary dinner with real margaritas, on a faux canal, in a faux village, under a faux sky.
Sushil got a kick out of seeing me behind the wheel, rather than the other side of the Uber app.
Hoover Dam, with the white ring showing how far Lake Mead's water level has fallen in the past years.
Fern and I outside our high school: Eldog! Woof! Woof, woof, woof, woof!
My last, and longest-lived-in, family home in Vegas. (My Senior year I lived with the wonderful and generous Berrys.)
The Las Vegas Valley, stretching out to Sunrise Mountain, on whose foothills I mostly grew up.
Sushil took me on the Big Shot, 329m (1,081 ft.) atop the Stratosphere Tower. He was a little more excited than I was...
And then the crazy fool took a spinning swing ride, hanging off the side of the tower.
Overlooking the Strip.
Downtown Las Vegas and the Fremont Experience; I definitely prefer Downtown to the Strip. Sushil donated $60 to the local economy, whereas I left $3 and four free cocktails up.
My friend from Cass, Argie, came up from LA to visit.
Oh Vegas, really?
Russ and I hidden behind the world's most overcrowded brunch table.
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