Recently, I spent four days with my family in Las Vegas. We drove home through the desert, as the afternoon simmered on the horizon and the twilight rose like a cobalt steam. And eventually the stars would appear, like coy diamonds. They linked into constellations, creating parures that glittered in the sky.
We gradually approached the outskirts of towns – Chino, Ontario, Barstow – touching by buildings that were the colorless victims of the dry, stirring air. They were all square; cubes with points that jutted into the night – products of a geometry that was dull and unimaginative. Their names were written in paint but such identities were swallowed by the dark. So they remained large and ominous: untitled and unknown.
They were also unlit, except for the white, lonely lights that shone in the corpse-like doorways and illuminated the empty parking lots. Their poor efforts seemed to emphasize the isolation. The lights were weak, and beyond the white cones of radiance they created the black air – uncorrupted by neon, by cities – cut like a knife.
The darkness was so profound, that it inspired a fear that was almost childlike – a fear of monsters, of loathsome things that lurked in unknown caves, beyond unrecognized corners, beneath the unplumbed sea.
Suddenly, though I was safe in our car, I wanted safety; to be – like a cat – curled within four confident walls. And since we were hours outside of the light and loud of Las Vegas and only 2 hours from Los Angeles, I found myself longing for home.