I’ve always loved New York City. Growing up in a small town in the midwest, dreaming about it used up many hours. When I was 16, I visited for the first time. It was in the ’70s and Times Square was a mess, full of homeless people, drug addicts and drunks. It didn’t matter. The city was full of life and the vibrance I knew I’d find there.

As soon as I could I left the midwest, never intending to return on a full time basis. I visited and lived all over the world and made it back to New York many times. Each time it was a joy.

When I did settle down, it was in Las Vegas. Very, very different from my love on the east coast, but a very vibrant, bustling place in it’s own right. I found home. Nine happy years went by. I worked in the casinos, had all my babies and my very closest, much loved friends were there as well.

Then 9/11 happened. Decisions needed to be made and I found myself back in the midwest, several hours from where I grew up. I was alone with three kids under 6, no friends or family and a husband who was gone 15 days out of every month. Depressing for a person like me who thrives on being with others and a huge array of options.

I have the luxury of flying where ever and when ever I choose. However life sometimes doesn’t allow you to take advantage of the options you have. Friends encouraged me to visit. I never did. Part of me was eroding away and I didn’t want anyone to see that I was becoming a shell of my former self. I felt like a hollow chocolate bunny you find at Easter. Empty and fragile.

Recently I had the opportunity to go back to Las Vegas after almost 10 years. I was home again. Back with friends who love me. Meeting new friends who I really liked. Old stories told. New ones made. Even visiting the grocery store with Starbucks and a sushi bar inside was a treat. I was back where I belonged. And every single reason why I never went back in 10 years surfaced. I miss it too damned much.

My kids are happy here in the midwest. My husband has a job he loves. And try as I might, I can’t help but disappear slowly, bit by bit, in a place I don’t belong.

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