What got real and instigated this change/blog was…Vegas. I love love love Vegas. Good food, gambling, shopping, dancing, what’s there not to love?? I used to go every year for my birthday plus a couple other times during the year. I live in LA, so not a long journey. PRO TIP (not that kind of pro, ew): Never. Ever. Drive. Always Fly. While the drive there is full of excited, intoxicated (admit it) carpool karaoke-ing winners…The drive back is somewhere between dying from an alcohol fueled-broke-lack of sleep induced fog and a moral hangover full of self-recrimination, horrifying flashbacks and maybe even the lingering memory of a 10 by night, 3 by morning wake up call. All this while reaching top speeds of 15 mph on the only freeway leading out of the desert, that 3-4 hour commute 2 days ago turning into a sweet 6 hour crawl home. Like I said Vegas is awesome.
This was not the kind of Vegas story that lead to this blog. It’s taken a full month and a half for me to even think about telling this story in any form. Here goes…
It started like it usually does, with one of us (any of my best girlfriends) deciding she wants to go to Vegas to celebrate her birthday. It was the weekend of the Route 91 Harvest Festival and 3 of us decided to go for the weekend. If you are a person and have seen any form of media in the last 2 months you’ll know how that weekend ended. Jason Aldean was on stage, M had just posted a pic of him on stage.
We were towards the front on the right side of the stage closest to Mandalay Bay. While he was singing it sounded like fireworks were going off. We thought he was putting on a really big show but we never saw anything light up the sky. Then the shooting really got underway. Rounds and rounds of bullets that sounded like band snaps or poppers hitting the ground. Some of the crowd realized it was gunfire and people started to shout for everyone to get down. The signer ran off stage and the stage floodlights were turned onto the crowd. We were fish in a barrel with a spotlight pointed directly on us all.
After was seemed like forever, there was a pause in the gunfire. S had refused to stay down and was standing while we were crouched down. During the pause she shouted that we needed to run, close to the same time M yelled that she had been hit “…shot in the ass” to be exact. S was already running, I checked M’s ass for bullet holes or blood. I didn’t see any damage and told her we had to go. (Later we discovered M was hit by flying shrapnel that must have come from someone getting hit very close to us. She had what looked like a snake bite on her butt cheek. )I took off stumbling away from the crowd. I fell, a couple of guys were running close behind me and one shouted to the other to stop before he trampled me. I barely looked back, got up and continued to run. I passed a few fenced off areas, some food/beverage trailers and thought about hiding. Since I didn’t know where the shooter was or how many there were I decided getting as far away as possible was the only option.
The recurring thoughts as I was running were… hold on to your phone, do not die, get home to your kid. Once I got closer to the exit I tried to text my husband, Joe, as I ran. Fortunately there was a signal but even in an emergency auto-correct was still an asshole.
Once I got out of the venue I called Joe and continued to move and shout at the people standing around me to run and not stand still. One guy was just standing there with his girlfriend, he looked at me and said “it’s just blanks, it’s not a real gun”. I kept running. I made my way down a street when I saw people filing into the basement of a hotel. (I later discovered it was Hooters) I followed them only to realize it was a tight enclosed space. We would be very easy prey if the shooter was on the move. I looked around and saw a service elevator. I went over to it and got in. A guy and two girls followed me in. The girls started to panic over being in an elevator and got out before the doors closed. The guy was still in there and while I was dealing with the panicky girls he had pressed the 10th floor button.
When the doors opened he shouted for me to follow him, there were a few people in the hallway. I called Joe to as we went down the hallway. One guy followed us into what turned out to be elevator guy’s room. (we called him Denver, because he was from Denver) Denver ran over and closed all the curtains, then proceeded to question and pat down the guy that followed us into the room. I laid on the floor between the two double beds, hung up with Joe and tried to track down S and M (not that kind of S&M. ew.)
Side note: One of my coping mechanisms is humor, many times dark and ill timed.
Once Denver was satisfied the other guy wasn’t a threat, he turned and asked who I was. To which I replied “Obviously, I’m the shooter”. (Both ill timed and fucked up.) He could tell I was lying and despite my immediate demand for a bottle of whiskey he agreed to let me stay in his room and he even helped me direct S and M to his room (again, not that kind of S&M. ew. ew. I am married). Finally they both made it to Hooters (there is a certain poetic justice in seeking shelter in Hooters) and we turned on the news to see what was happening. The news didn’t have anything until about 20-30 mins after we were in the room. We posted that we were safe on Facebook before anyone even had any idea what was happening. There was a lot of misinformation coming from all over the place. We didn’t know if it was a terrorist attack, if there were 1 or 10 shooters, if hotels were going to start blowing up. We watched the news non-stop for hours and sent texts or made calls to immediate family and friends.
I had gotten into Hooters just before 10:30pm and the girls each arrived within 10-15 minutes of that. At around 3:30am we decided it had been long enough and we wanted to get back to our room and get on the first flight out. We thanked Denver and each gave him an awkward hug goodbye. We didn’t exchange contact information, I still don’t know if that is weird or not. It was an intense thing to go through with someone and to end it with a “thanks, bye” seems a little anticlimactic.
We all survived with minor physical injuries but have been dealing with some hard core PTSD that has manifested itself in various ways. It is still hard to believe someone tried to kill us in real life and that it wasn’t a movie or a bad dream. We go to therapy every week and support each other however possible. I think the healing process is underway but it’s rough going.
My injuries included a major case of gross toe. Not sure how it happened, my whole foot was covered in blood. I didn’t realize it until S pointed it out in the room. This is a cleaned up pic a few days later.
Though I have a poor sense of humor, I take what happened and gun control very seriously. You can help support gun control https://www.facebook.com/Everytown/