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 an inch of personal space in any direction over the preceding 16 hours. Movement had only been conducted in waves, buffered by eddies, always ending in a backwash. So each step then, away from the crowds, at 5 AM on the glitter-cement of the sidewalk 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. Neither seemed available.
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.