On Tuesday of this week, I got a great chance to hang out with one of my closest friend’s fiancé, Moe.  His story is like many of ours; He came to a big city that he had never been with only so much money to create something new for his life.  His story is different when it comes to the details.  That’s where all of our stories get different. 

Moe drove to Las Vegas with barely enough money to get him there and live.  What he was leaving was his family, his life, and everything he knew for a city he had only seen in pictures and on film.  With no idea what he was going to find, he arrived and thankfully found a job quickly.  He used his police workforce experience to get him in the door but then quickly found himself in the restaurant business because of his family background.

Growing up with an Italian background in New York, Moe was working by making Cappuccinos and cannolis.  So, when approached to help open a new Italian restaurant in the northern part of Las Vegas known as Summerlin, he became eager to get back into the food industry and get his culinary skills back into practice.  That was what solidified him as a full time resident of Las Vegas.

Las Vegas isn’t the easiest city to get used to.  It is a way of living that takes time.  When moving here, you realize that there is an enormous life force that has nothing to do with the strip. That all of these communities surrounding the strip have their own stories and have people from all over the world that moved to the city for their own, very specific reasons. 

Mine was unknown, even to me.  I moved to Las Vegas because there was a little voice in me that screamed I need a change.  I was twenty one, didn’t really know a thing about the real world, and had a good solid logical brain on my shoulders.  I figured it would get me somewhere. 

For me, getting used to the walls were difficult. Las Vegas is such a new city, because of housing areas, small community specific rules, and not knowing exactly would be built next door when the land was bought, walls got built everywhere.  Walls to keep people in, keep people out, keep the influence of Las Vegas at a distance.  One of the influences being the gambling, you never realize how it is part of the culture until you move there.

For those of you who have never been to Vegas, or have but have never ventured off the strip, you then don’t really know what place gambling has in the culture of Nevada.  Not only does gambling keep the economy going, but it makes it so there is no state tax.  The casinos are able to bring in so much money, that there is no reason for a state tax.  The casinos also help in the communities.  This isn’t necessarily a large contribution in the community but they do sometimes offer financial assistance.  What they do offer is high paying jobs to help keep the people of Las Vegas not always needing to question what is wrong with the casinos and their relationship to state and local government.  That relationship should be questioned then because it affects the school system, the housing market, and the medical system.  The content I was able to get over the last week goes more into that.

The gambling aspect of the culture that I personally was shocked by though was that it was everywhere:  Not only in the casinos, but in the gas stations, grocery stores, bars, and laundromats.  For a local, you really have the opportunity to gamble anywhere you would like.  How does the line then get drawn between good for the economy and bad for the locals?  That though, when you move to Las Vegas, quickly just gets put in the background because there is so much happening off the strip.

In Las Vegas though, I really got to grow into an adult and discover who I was.  Till the day I die, I will call Las Vegas one of my homes.  Moe built an entire life in Vegas.  He has children now and his oldest is a freshman in college.  I heard him talk to her on the phone and just by hearing how much he misses her and loves her. I can see that there was never any mistake in moving to Las Vegas and creating this life.

 His fiancé Beth, who happens to be like a sister to me, also moved to Las Vegas shortly after I did for her own reason.  At the time, she was in a relationship with someone else that ended after they moved here together.  Even though she gets homesick, I don’t think she is upset she moved to Vegas because she now also has a very wonderful life.  She is in love with someone who holds her on a pedestal, has the family, and is in a successful career which she is now furthering her education to grow more in that career. 

Even though Las Vegas has so much going on with it, there is still the same reason why people move to Las Vegas, because it is the definition of the American Dream.  It is a place that provides opportunity, throws you out of your comforts zone and is a blank palette for anything to happen.  Thank you Moe for that wonderful day that helped me remember what it means to be in Las Vegas and why Vegas is so important when it comes to America’s landscape.