It was about 2:30 a.m. when I woke up and checked my phone. The first thing that popped up was a text message from one of my best friends.
“Hey man, are you safe?”
That’s when I checked Twitter. People asking if we were OK. Facebook constantly updating me every two minutes to let me know people have checked in safely. It didn’t make sense. Even after scrolling through every news notification from every major news outlet on my phone, it didn’t seem real.
As the sun rises on this October morning, there’s a slim hope everything that transpired last night is a nightmare and we’re just all a part of some collective mind warp that brings us together through our greatest fears.
You never truly know something like this could happen until it happens in your own hometown. The impact of events that happened in London, Paris and Orlando — albeit far — resonated with all of us. We could feel their pain, their agony, only imagining their hearts break. But now that it’s happened to us, in our city, in an area where over 20,000 people gathered to listen to country music and have a good time, we are now sitting through the heartbreak and agony that we saw from afar, wishing that it would never happen to us.
I left T-Mobile Arena at around 8:30 p.m. Sunday after the Golden Knights’ game against San Jose. As I walked back to my car, I saw a number of Vegas fans outside the New York-New York parking garage talking about how excited they were for the upcoming season. They were laughing, talking about where they were going to eat and gameplan for the team’s home opener. It’s Las Vegas. We’re supposed to have fun and talk about things like that on a daily basis. We’re not supposed to be afraid to leave our homes in this city.
Much like we, the sports media, are told to just “stick to sports.” How?
How does anyone just stick to sports when something like this happens? You can’t.
There’s no possible way to keep your feelings bottled up, your opinions stuffed in a box and tied off with a pink bow. The city I’ve called home for my whole life is broken. Right now, the sun peering through my window is just a mirage. Something that is supposed to resemble the light and happiness is only a decoy to the dark cloud that hangs over one of this country’s iconic areas. It’ll likely stay that way for a long time.
When something happens like last night, humanity is supposed to be the shining beacon of hope that brings us all together while understanding the reality of what happened. Las Vegas residents aren’t just people who work at casinos and spend countless hours at the Blackjack table. They are a group of people who love their city and work extra hard at making it the desirable destination people make it out to be. It’s a blue-collar city that prides itself on being great. That’s why I know this city can rally together and overcome this. Acts of hatred can overshadow the bad times, but it can’t break the spirit of the great people of Las Vegas.
I’ve cried a lot this morning. I scrolled through the pictures provided by Getty and USA Today. Those told the story better than any news outlet could, and I wish that story wasn’t as crystal clear as it was. The real challenge is how do we spin the story forward and get on to the next chapter? That’s going to take some time.
But to my friends and fellow Las Vegans, we are at our best when we fight through adversity. This is a time that we’ll never forget, and that’s going to be problematic. Every time we walk down the Strip, primarily around Mandalay Bay, we know it will never be the same. When we rebuild, it will be stronger than ever. Las Vegas has never been a city to just stand aside and let the development come as it may.
We will be back. And we’ll be better than ever.