On September 12, 2001, Micah and I stayed in a suite in the Venetian hotel in Las Vegas. It was huge, palatial. It had a marble bathroom bigger than my apartment at the time, with marble lions and gold-plated faucets pouring into the jacuzzi tub. The lobby, which bled seamlessly into a mall of high-end shops, had an eerily lit, faux-blue sky.
Neither of us has ever stayed at the Venetian—or any other mega-resort there—either before or since. For us, nothing ever had to “stay” in Vegas, because we simply never went there. No bachelor parties or girls weekends. No spur-of-the-moment, “Vegas, baby, Vegas!” road trips. Not even a Celine Dion concert or visit to the Guggenheim or ironic jaunt to the idyll of postmodern architecture.
We were there because a day earlier we had been in Sun Valley, Idaho, happily ensconced in my family’s time-share condo, hiking and reading and watching deer walk by on the path above the river from where we were reading Levinas on the living room couch, when we got the call from my mother to turn on the television. Actually, to be accurate, when we got the call, we were asleep. We turned on the news after the planes hit but before the towers fell. After approximately twenty-four hours of watching, when airports were at a standstill and no plane was flying anywhere in North America, we decided to drive home to Los Angeles. We were numb anyway, we might as well be staring into the blankness of the Nevada desert. There were stretches there that we couldn't even get the radio. When we drove until we couldn’t drive any more that day, the place we were in was Las Vegas.