Triumphant

Monday, October 25th, 2010
vegas eiffel tower at night

A beacon of light in Vegas

If we are lucky, we will experience moments in life when the very core of who we are and what we are is affirmed. Amidst the days when we worry that we’re crazy and the nights when we are afraid that we are inherently wrong, there are bright spots of light and truth and we are suddenly more sure of ourselves than we have been in a very long time.

Everyone, I think, has these flashes of confirmation. Perhaps it happens at the kitchen table over peanut butter and jelly sandwiches when your child beams at you, and you are suddenly certain that you made the right decision to stay home. Maybe you get your affirmation the day you walk across the stage to finally touch the degree you’ve spent years chasing. Your moment may come in a boardroom or a park or on a mountain top in a foreign land.

My moment came on the Las Vegas strip.

mon ami gabi sidewalk cafe

Parisian Cafe - in Vegas

I was sitting alone at a table for two in the Vegas version of a Paris cafe.  I’d waited for 30 minutes for that table because I had been assured that the very best place to have Sunday brunch in Vegas was the patio at Mon Ami Gabi.  It was the first time in years that I’d agreed to wait for a table; my life is too busy to spend time waiting for the best seat in a restaurant.  But that day I had no place to be and nothing but time and whim.  I was determined to have the patience for indulgence.

I sipped a pink frothy cocktail that the waitress had recommended, a French martini they told me.  I hadn’t even asked how much it cost before I ordered it.  Never in my life had I ordered something without knowing the exact price, but I was committed to this experience.  I took another sip and said a silent prayer of gratitude for my spontaneity and bubbly pink booze.

Beside my neat martini glass was a plate of “Country Style Pâté”, whole grain mustard, and toast.  It was quite possibly the most lovely appetizer I’d ever been served.

Of course, I had no idea what to do with it.

french martini and country pate

French Brunch

“Excuse me?”  I tried to discreetly get the attention of the man in the tuxedo who was arranging linens and flatware on the table beside me.

“Can I help you?” he asked from across the next table.

I leaned forward and waved him over, again trying to be discreet.  He took a few steps towards me and I said, as quietly as I could, “ummm… I need help.”  He cocked his head to the side and waited for me to continue.  “I… uhh…” I pointed at the beautifully plated mystery meat in front of me, “I don’t know how I’m supposed to eat this.”

He smiled, but he didn’t laugh.  He came closer and showed me how to spread the mustard on the toast and slice the pâté into thin strips to place on top of the mustard and toast.  After I’d followed his instructions, I held up my wobbly stack for approval.  He was still smiling as he nodded his head and waited for me to take a bite.

“You like?”

I did like.  I liked very much, in fact, and I thanked him for his kindness.  He returned to his flatware and I leaned back in my chair to savor the flavor of the moment.  As if on cue, I heard the explosion of water and Frank Sinatra’s “Fly Me To The Moon” begin to play across the street.  I turned to watch the fountain show at the Bellagio.

And there on the strip, with the taste of French martini and Country Style Pâté fresh in my mouth and Frank Sinatra crooning at me from across the street, I felt bliss.

It wasn’t just the music and the decadent food, or even the alcohol before dark.  It was the culmination of a perfect weekend spent proving to myself that… that what, exactly?

That I can walk up to a stranger and look them in the eye and shake their hand, and not melt into a puddle of jitters and shame.

That I can smile and breathe and not be afraid in a crowd of strangers.

That I can be very much afraid and survive.

That I can go to a party completely alone and refuse to feel alone in a crowd.

That I am most alive when I am exploring a new place.

That I can make my way, I guess.

The weekend in Vegas was a constant obstacle course of insecurities, and I did not once retreat to my hotel room or lose myself in my iPhone.  I stuck my chin out, pushed my shoulders back, and introduced myself to strangers over and over and over again.  I walked up to people I admired and told them so.  I danced when I wanted to dance and ate when I wanted to eat and learned what I wanted to learn.  It was a weekend spent with the very best version of me.

paris lunch

And I liked her very, very much.

  1. Shnerfle says:

    Good for you! It sounds absolutely divine…

  2. Lisa C. says:

    Sounds lovely, and illuminating … and perfect!

  3. i have been waiting for this bliss post. you made my heart do a happy dance for you. silly words in a comment can’t properly convey how downright giddy i am for you.
    muchlove,
    becky

  4. Liza says:

    love it! that’s wonderful. i think we all need to try a little more of that. i’ll admit i’m the 1st one to pull out my phone in a crowd of strangers – for something to do, because i’m feeling uncomfortable. i like the way you approached the weekend. :)

  5. Very, very cool. Waiting for my moment. :)

  6. Lisa says:

    I am so happy for you! It sounds like Vegas was very good for you. YAY!!

  7. Karl says:

    I’m happy for you, that rocks. I haven’t had those moments lately. In fact, the opposite. Insecurities and depression have kept me from doing much of anything, including socializing with friends, let alone strangers. I’m almost agoraphobic of late. Ugh. Glad you’re kicking ass and taking names.

  8. Mandi Bone says:

    I think that I am older than you but I want to be you when I grow up.

  9. Headless Mom says:

    This made me tear up. I’m so happy for you! Sounds like a great trip.

  10. Tina says:

    Beautiful. Genuine. Lovely.

  11. ABDPBT says:

    I liked her, too! You have great taste.

  12. Bruce says:

    What a lovely, affirming post.

  13. Dude…. I so wanna be you!

  14. Finn says:

    Did you think for a minute that you couldn’t do it?

    Not me. I knew you could. :))

  15. Danielle says:

    This is fantastic. And I am soooo glad that you enjoyed Mon Ami Gabi! It is one of those spots that is oh-so-perfect on the strip. So glad we got to meet during your weekend in Vegas!

    • Miss Britt says:

      That dinner with you was a highlight of my trip. GREAT food, lovely company. Thank you again – both for the dinner and the recommendation on Mon Ami Gabi!

  16. the muskrat says:

    “That I am most alive when I am exploring a new place.”

    I’ve put that exact phrase into a status update before (after thinking it numerous times). When I actually took the time to type it into my phone was after sitting at a bar having lobster and talking to local strangers in Portland, Maine after I’d hitched a ride on the back of a military cargo plane and then rented a truck for the drive to the shore. I actually posted about it, too: http://tinyurl.com/2767aen

    In any event, I feel you here. Glad you went on this trip; hope you have many more in the future.

  17. I am so damned proud of you that if I was in front of you, I’d hug you until your eyes popped.

    *Sniff!* There goes our girl! :)

  18. Kristin says:

    Aww. I want to go there too. Not Vegas. Good post !

  19. IzzyMom says:

    I have found, oddly enough, that I’m most comfortable with approaching strangers, as well as being approachable, and generally enjoying my aloneness when I’m totally on my own with no friends, no posse, no social crutches to prop me up. Glad you found your bliss :)

    • Miss Britt says:

      I think I’m discovering that, too. Being at a conference alone without any safety nets really forced me to act like a big girl. I had no expectations of anyone noticing me so I wasn’t disappointed when it didn’t happen.

  20. I liked you too:) So glad we ran into each other at the last moment! Cheers… or sante as they say in France:)

  21. Jamie says:

    “Determined to have the patience for indulgence.” Loved that. Great picture.

  22. You are an inspiration. I used to feel that way many years ago and then lost myself. Having been on a journey back to myself over the last ten years or so, you are one of the people I turn to for inspiration. Thank you for sharing yourself so openly.

  23. Bobbi Lynn says:

    I LOVE Mon Ami Gabi! It’s where I met my fiance! I’m glad it was as life-changing for you as it was for me. :)

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