day 100: it’s like déjà vu all over again.

IMG_0891Today is the 100th day of living in Las Vegas. Time time around. Most of you know this is my second go-round in Vegas. The first one didn’t end so well for me. I made it to 134 days and then was summarily spit out and thrown back to the Midwest. Plenty of circumstances led to that situation; many of which I vowed would not happen again, if given the opportunity to repeat myself.

As luck or fate would have it, here I am, repeating myself. And, true to form, I’ve avoided every single pitfall that befell me the first time I tried this Las Vegas living thing. I’ve also avoided going to the Starbucks where I used to hang out so much. Why is that? I need to fix that. Starbucks aside, what have been the biggest differences?

1) No Couch Surfing. The first time I moved here, some four years ago, I relied on the charity of friends to allow me to get on my feet. I moved out here with not much more than a few changes of clothes and a laptop computer in hand and slept on couches for the first few months. Big mistake. No, I am not bagging on my friends for taking me in. I am forever grateful for that. The problem is the longer you wait to put down roots, the less likely you are to put down roots.

This time around, I made certain I started with my own home and my own furnishings. Roots are firmly planted. It’s a tiny, one-bedroom apartment, but it’s a start.

2) Full Time Employment. The last time I came through Vegas, I was a part-time/extra-board dealer at a very swanky resort on The Strip. Now, that’s a pretty sweet gig. You can make a lot of money doing that. But here’s the problem: as business ebbs and flows, so goes the part-time dealer. It’s not a steady gig, so you end up at the mercy of the business (to say nothing of having no benefits). I moved to Vegas in November 2009, as the economy was tanking. It never got better. As a result, my hours were drastically reduced and really had no choice but to limp away.

This time around, I moved to Vegas with a full-time job in hand. A steady job with a steady paycheck makes a big difference.

3. No Partying Like a Tourist. Sure, I go out and hit The Strip once in awhile. But not every night. The truth is, I enjoy the local side of Vegas quite a bit, but you can’t really avoid gambling in this town. It’s everywhere. Not that I was a partying machine my last time living here, but I made a conscious decision to relegate my Strip time to when friends/family visit and then once in awhile beyond that. Otherwise, I tend to stay at home. For now.

4. NO LIVIN’ ON THE STRIP! You may recall from my previous stint I stayed in Las Vegas hotels for about 30 days of my 134 days of living here the last time around. It was as much an indulgence as it was an experiment. I was comped all but one of those nights, so I felt it would be fun to take advantage of it. Oh yes, it was fun. But it was also boring. And lonely. And, whether you intend to or not, you spend more money than you should. I wasn’t cooking. I wasn’t buying groceries. I was living in hotel rooms, so I was forced to eat out a lot. Did I gamble? Sure, a little bit. But the worst part of this experiment is I was not being a resident in my new city. I was being an impostor among the tourists. It was an interesting experiment once. I will not do that again.

Now that 100 days are in the books, what should I do for the next 100 days? That’s easy: get more embedded in the local scene. I know where I like to shop, eat, etc. Now I need to find some true, local hangouts to call my own. I know a couple, but there’s always more. And then I want to explore the nature out here. I’m in the process of learning all the mountain ranges and peaks that surround the valley. By the time you visit, I should be able to point to a mountain and tell you its name. That’s next.

But for now, here’s to my first 100 days. It’s only getting better. But I really should visit that Starbucks again, shouldn’t I?

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