|Intersection of Tropicana and Las Vegas Blvd.|
Once I got adjacent the MGM Grand and New York, New York hotels the pedestrian traffic picked up and I could see the true extent of what was expected that night. I was in awe at the number of police officers. We peace loving Canadians don’t usually need massive crowd control unless it is game seven of the Stanley Cup. The inside lane of each side of the road had been barricaded and about every 20 feet there were four officers stationed with their cars. That means there were hundreds of Officers patrolling the strip that night. I figure they must have been importing Officers from other jurisdictions. The outside of most hotels also had barricades up with equal numbers of security officers controlling access to the hotels. I marvelled at the control and execution of what is probably the second biggest New Year's Eve party in the United States after New York City. Las Vegas has this night down pat.
I was lucky to be able to get inside the Bellagio once I had watched the fountains a few times, the main attraction that had coaxed me to walk the three kilometres dressed very poorly for the frigid air. Most of the hotels, including the Bellagio, had signs up stating only hotel patrons would be allowed access, but it was early enough in the evening that the hotel wasn’t swarmed. The occupancy levels would change over the next two hours drastically. Once inside I took my time through the Conservatory, then treated myself to gelato at Jean Philippe Patisserie, home to the largest chocolate fountain in the world. Eat dessert first, for life is short. I wandered around a bit, and then at 10:30 pm I had my dinner. That was no small feat in Las Vegas on New Year's Eve. If you are ever there I recommend reservations, eating at an odd time, or being prepared to wait an excessively long time to be seated.
At 11:30 pm I went back outside. The scene sure had changed in those two hours. Which I should have guessed based on the chaos inside the hotel. As I walked down the slope of the driveway from the hotel entrance to the Strip, I could see the wall of people I was approaching. And about halfway down the long driveway, the energy of their excitement hit me. It was magical and my face lit up with anticipation and glee. I was about to experience a bucket-list event which seems to produce either fear or excitement in me. Sometimes both joy and dread at the same time. I inched my way into the crowd forcing a space where they had been none. I squirmed my way slowly but surely over to the sidewalk to the front of the fountains, which were going off every five minutes instead of the usual 15. And I warmed up. The body heat and the energy being produced by everyone around me took the chill from biting to mildly uncomfortable.
It was noisy on the strip with all the horns and people hooting, hollering and singing. When the Bellagio turned off the millions of lights they have on their property and the countdown for the last minute of 2014 went up on their billboard, the crowd surged in their volume and energy. It was palpable and intoxicating. I was stone cold sober that night but flying high on life and eager to let this year go. I faced Planet Hollywood which was setting off fireworks from their rooftop but I occasionally spun around to watch the fireworks being set off from four different hotels. The show lasted about seven minutes and was truly spectacular. I was enthralled and could not have asked for more. It was the pure joy and awe of childhood that I was feeling. It was glorious and I didn’t want it to end because I rarely feel that innocent swelling of my jaded heart.
When the fireworks ended people instantly started pushing their way to wherever and I was getting jostled about pretty well. I wanted to stay where I was in case the fountains started again. I could see a ruckus about five feet away from me, but had no idea what was going on in the circle that had everyone cheering. Being cynical, and being I was in Las Vegas, I actually thought maybe some girl was flashing her boobs, or it was a celebrity, but no one was taking pictures, so that wasn’t likely. (Sigh; I shake my head at our society most of the time.) I asked the person next to me if they knew what was happening, and they said it was a proposal.
I wanted to see this for myself so I started my own elbow manoeuvring within the crown. Soon enough I had wormed my way the few feet to get into the inner circle surrounding the couple. Unfortunately for me the proposal had ended, which is how I was able to get close to the couple, but I saw what I needed to see and what the Universe wanted me to see: Love; Bliss; Rapture; Hope; Belief; Oneness; Sanctuary; Inclusion; and Home. Already feeling a-ok with life and swollen with joy, somehow my heart still managed to expand. The smile on my face was that rare smile that hurts my cheeks after a few minutes and my eyeballs were pressured from the back by tears that didn’t spill. It was too cold to cry despite the awful burning sensation in my nose that not letting go produces.
|The unknown couple just engaged.|
Although I don’t know how she heard a word of what he was saying to her when he proposed.
One of the highlights for me of Las Vegas has always been the people watching. There simply is no better place I have found for that activity. You see it all there, from the homeless to the millionaires. You never know who you are walking with or standing next to. You never know what you will see, or who you will meet. I met some interesting people on this trip, and I saw Mike Tyson. None of what I have seen during my trips will ever top that proposal glow.
This photo was taken of the couple I write about without their permission, but afterwards I told them I had taken their photo and wanted to write about them. The young man gave me his permission to use the photo. I hope one day, somehow, in this little community we call our world, this article finds them and they realize what an impact they had on me. That moment, that couple, was as much a part of my healing process as any book I have read and I get teary with gratitude when I think about them. I thank them, whoever they are, and I wish them love and light, always. I thank the Universe for putting me in the right place at the right time to witness that pure moment of love.
Authors note - Ironically, when I witnessed this I had already written The Divorce Proposal, but I hadn’t edited it yet, or submitted it to my Editor.