I was in Reno, Nevada awhile ago and it was near 5:00 AM.
Walking back to my hotel room—supported by the residual energy of caffeine, tobacco, adrenaline, and lust—the city felt itchy. At that hour everything shimmered, each street lamp became a starburst, every individual tube of neon a flash flood of electricity.
I had not had more than a few inches of personal space in any direction over the preceding 17 hours. Movement had only been conducted in waves, buffered by eddies, always ending in a backwash. So each step then at 5:00 AM on the glitter-cement of the sidewalk, away from the crowds, seemed like a mile of open road.
I took my first full breath and felt my eyes burn. Yes, there it was. Hunger, an intense gnawing in my gut. Did I want food? Yes, mounds. Also, companionship. True closeness.
In the casinos, I had been so close to so many people for so long and had made no real connections; nothing more than a promising glance or an inaudible exchange of words under the din of dime machines and quarter machines and ice-cube alcohol impaired drink orders. Reno at night was the kind of place a thoughtful person could not breach—the loud, the brash, the vulgar lushes yes. But my self-conscious desire, my left-handed heart marked me like the red spots of the black death.
Carefree revelers could always spot a desperate man; desperate to do something completely outside of himself, his shallow fears, and his hollow life.