If you could take one picture to remember a moment in your life, what would it be?
I was presented with this question a few weeks back. It’s stuck with me since, but on that day I knew exactly the picture I wish I had…
Frank and I first visited Las Vegas in 1997, we were only seventeen, but we fell head over heels for Sin City. The weather, the sunshine, the mountains, the desert, the neon lights… it felt like home. We vowed one day it would be.
Six years later, Frank was laid off from his job and had difficulty find work, I was in a dead-end job and we both had recently received our degrees. The time had come, it was Vegas or bust.
We made the 1,760 mile trek across the country. We drove separately I followed closely behind Frank’s lead. I can remember refueling in Denver just before you head into the Rockies, and I lost Frank on the way back onto the expressway. He took the wrong exit. I briefly panicked. I had never driven mountains, I barely knew the way, and the only means I had to reach him was by walkie talkie. I pulled onto the shoulder and hoped we’d somehow be close enough to gain a signal between the radios. Minutes later, although, it felt like eternity, we had faint communication. We found each other and continued on our way.
The following day we arrived in Las Vegas. I will never forget the moment I caught my first glimpse of the strip coming down from I-15. We arrived! I was filled with such emotion. It wasn’t just the relief of making it or the excitement of seeing the city; it was also joy, nervousness, anticipation and fear of the unknown. I felt it all.
That’s the moment I wish was captured on film. I have photos from all the other special times in my life. That’s the one that got away. It was such a defining moment, too. It was when I started living for myself, instead of those who depended on me. It was a gamble to move away from family and friends; I had to put my faith into Frank. He’s all I would have. We were newly engaged, I felt his commitment, but there was part of me that was nervous. What if Vegas changed us?
Well, that was six years ago today. My concerns were needless. I had no idea how great our lives would be. I'm so thankful we had the guts to do it, to follow our dream. We're not the same people that we were six years ago, but we've grown and learned together. We're stronger because of our experiences, individually and as a couple. We're not afraid to take risks, some have paid off and we've lost on others. Either way, we don't sit idly and let life happen, we make it happen. Had we stayed in Chicago, I don't think that would be the case. Opportunity was too stagnant. I truly believe we’re better off here. We’re happy, we’re in love. Not only with each other, but also with the city we know is home.