Except really MelBrisbaLAsVegacticut... but the former sounds better.
Two weeks ago I left for one of the most epic trips I've made to date.
The Urbon Vivant, as I've self-proclaimed myself, made MAD moves. When I first arrived in Australia, I looked into getting home for my cousin's wedding in September. Lucky for me, it was so far in advance that roundtrip flights to LAX (the more frequent route for Aus-US) were actually quite inexpensive. If I timed it right, I could even get home in time for Labor Day Weekend. Click- flight purchased. No need to think that one over.
Then, the pieces began to fall in to place (as they seem to be doing quite often lately!). I found out my girlfriends were all heading to Vegas for LDW. We usually go in winter for Sameea's birthday, but this time they didn't want to miss out on all the outdoor fun. To say I was suffering from severe FOMO is a complete understatement. I was freaking the f out. I couldn't miss this. And I had no idea when I'd ever get home again! So, on September 4th, I flew from Melbourne to Brisbane to LAX to Las Vegas to make one hell of a surprise visit.
I left my apartment at the break of dawn. No seriously, I called an uber at 4am. I was like a kid on Christmas Eve, I was too excited to sleep and too eager to get all 3 of my flights started. In case you ever fly to Australia, just know their airport security is NOTHING like the US. I should know by now that I don't need to arrive 3 hours ahead of my flight time to go through it, because you don't even have to take your shoes off, and check in takes all of 6 minutes, but like I said, I was the eagerest of beavers. I checked my bag, walked through security, and was sitting at my gate in approximately 13 minutes. Only 2 hours and 47 minutes to go before boarding started. HA.
When I did board my flight, I was caught somewhere in between an anxiety attack from utter excitement, and half asleep from realizing it was only 7am and I had 16 more hours to go. I was a page and a half into a new book when I passed the F out, drool face and all. The flight attendant woke me up an hour later because of that stupid seat-back adjustment rule for landing and then suddenly we were off to take the tram to the international terminal. I took one step onto the tarmac only to realize I had left my Kindle in the seat pocket. Niiiiiice. You had ONE job to do Alex- keep your shit together. As I go to turn around, it was as if I had screamed the word bomb. No one would let me back on the plane, even if just for the nerdying need of Kindle reuniting. I had to run to the Virgin Australia desk to let them know I NEEDED my baby on my long flight to the US. I felt naked without it. What was I going to do for the next 14 hours???! Panic was flooding through my geeky veins. Between walky-talkies and code words given for what I swore was the sole purpose of not letting me know what was going on, the attendants at the desk were attempting to help me- but the outlook was looking dismal. I had approximately 10 minutes before my flight boarded and still had to get through customs. Luckily, that process is also nothing like that of the US. It doesn't take 7 years to get through the queue, it takes about 20 minutes. Unless you're me and constantly have issues with the photo identification computers (probably because you look like an insane asylum escapee from lack of sleep tied with Kindle separation anxiety).
Jake at the Virgin Aus desk took my contact info and said to hope for the best, as he sent me on my way. Though upset with myself, I couldn't stay bummed for long- I was headed home! And on the way I got to stop in Vegas to see my best friends- it was hard to stay depressed. Which reminded me, VEGAS WEEEEEE. Sin City has become one of my favorite destinations worldwide. Bottom line, the place just gets me. I get to dress up, head out with my gals, cut lines, dance on elevated surfaces, drink for $Free.99 and sometimes (this time) walk past famous people (story to be continued).
Because I'm super famous myself and live a luxurious bon vivant lifestyle, I flew first class from LAX to Las Vegas. Meaning I lived the life for all of 40 minutes LOL. I ordered as much champagne as the steward would allow in the time period, ate all free snacks offered, and chatted with the family sitting next to me (from Calabasas, figures).
By the time I landed, it was noon. I had 5 hours until Arlene, the only other friend aware of my surprise visit- and main coordinator of it- would get there. Luckily, my bestest from home, Molly, was flying in from Colorado for her first Vegas visit ever! After getting lost in the airport (didn't realize McCarren was so ginormous) I found her waiting at a baggage belt. Running off pure adrenaline (because my body definitely knew an entire day had passed without sleep), we hopped into a cab and asked the driver where the best pool party was on a Friday afternoon. He dropped us at Encore at Wynn and I made my first attempt at getting in somewhere without Arlene and the help of our favorite Vegas promoters. First try- immediate denial. Second try- Mol and I hopped in behind a big group of girls clearly on a Bachelorette holiday. Homegirl didn't understand girlcode and handed the bouncer her promoter ticket along with, "It's me plus these 10 girls, THOSE TWO aren't with us". Lolz thanks girlfriend. So, I finally gave in and paid for my first entry to a Vegas club ever. At this point it was like 90 degrees and I couldn't be bothered.
Second hurdle of the day- security. Because Mol and I had literally come directly from the airport, we had checked our suitcases in with the front desk but I had held onto my purse. Though by purse, you should probably picture the bag Mary Poppins had where she could pull everything including umbrellas out. The bouncer immediately started searching and dove right on in. He must've felt like he had hit the jackpot because upon finding my cosmetics case he took LITERALLY every medicine I had- sleeping pills, advil, more sleeping pills (they were long flights!), pepto bismol, my women's one a day vitamins, probably more sleeping pills, and my UNOPENED pack of gum. And my Hydralyte (Australia's version of Alka seltzer + Airborne- aka my remedy for all future hangovers of the weekend)- I couldn't let that one go without a fight. "Seriously, why are you taking my hydralyte?" "It says right on the sign before you enter all of this isn't allowed" "Because everyone reads signs before they go into a giant pool party right?" "You can't have these" "I don't get it - do you think these are all illegal drugs or something? It says right there ELECTROLYTE SUPPLEMENTS. Cut me a break I just came from AUSTRALIA! Open that- it's giant orange tablets. Does that really look like ecstasy to you!???" Hearing the pure desperation in my voice, homeboy let me at least keep my hydralyte. But not before continuing to raid my back until I flat out asked- "why don't you just take my tampons, too?"
He didn't think it was as funny as I did. But he let me in- so I could finally release my inner basic bitch and scream WE MADE ITTTTTT.
Mol and I danced, met fellow Aussies (I can say fellow now because I'm a resident. TA.), accidentally purchased a $99 pitcher of Vodka & Lemonade, regretfully drank it, and then finally got the call from Leney to head to MGM Grand to check in with her. Aka the first pool party was a success.
A few hours later I was getting ready in the bathroom when I heard Sameea and Jeanette walk in (see above WOOO WE MADE IT meme). I quickly jumped behind the door and heard Arlene tell them to go into the bathroom. After a series of "What? Why" they reluctantly made it inside so I could pop out and scream SURPRISE!!!! Their reactions were brilliant- it took a full 5 seconds for them to comprehend that I wasn't a hologram and actually standing in front of them. But it was the best. I WAS SO HAPPY TO BE REUNITED AGAIN. A full nine months had passed since I'd last been with any of my biddies.
Kai arrived a few hours later and luckily was equally surprised! I had been worried because when I first booked my flight to the states I had mentioned trying to come to Vegas.
Then the wild rumpus began. For three whole days, we danced, and I will proudly admit I did not take off my heels for all three of those days. My feet, however, are not as proud. They make Frodo Baggins look pampered.
We saw David Guetta, Cash Cash, other famous DJs I wasn't paying attention to, and then Major Lazer, aka I stalked Diplo one evening. He was done playing at Encore when I walked outside into the main casino lobby of the Wynn. In a series of hilarious events, suddenly Diplo was walking past me. My immediate reaction was to scream out Tom! as if I knew him well. When he didn't hear me, I just started walking with his entourage hoping to look incognito. They walked into a private room with a massive bouncer blockading, to which I tried to discreetly walk by. "EXCUSE ME MAM" ..."It's not me, I am Mrs. Iglesias" "Mam get back here" "Oh me? I'm with the group" (LOL) "I need you to step outside here" Desperate times call for desperate actions my friends..."Sir, have you ever been in love? I see you're married. I'm in love, please understand" "Mam, I will only ask you once more" He was fixed on the M word. "Just turn away and we'll pretend like you never even saw me" "DO YOU WANT TO GO TO JAIL MAM?" "OK OK don't get your panties in a twist!"
Needless to say, I didn't hang out with Major Lazer and crew that night HAHA. We did talk to RiffRaff, but that's nothing to brag about.
For three days, we were so busy having the times of our lives being treated like princesses, we figured why not keep the act going? We ordered room service because #vegas, and we even bumped up our ride game from taking cabs to having full fledged limos drive us around. HAHA. Pretending to be famous is fun.
Our first pool party as a group was a reenactment of every MTV Spring Break I ever saw as a teen. It was half Project X, half P Diddy Yacht Party, and I couldn't get enough of it. I wore a onesie bathing suit for goodness sake- I was in my element. Upon entering we were summoned by a huge bouncer- to which my initial reaction was damn it we just got here what did we do now?? In a peculiarly serious manner he said "Come with me". And we did as we were told, as anyone would given the size of this beast. Next thing you know we're placed at a VIP table by the pool, and introduced to a charming group of gents from New Orleans celebrating a Bachelor Party. At the end of the day, I wanted to hug the giant beastly bouncer (actually I might've)- not only were the guys not creepy and overbearing, they were so much fun! We'd end up hanging out with them another night because in Vegas, we make friends.
Vegas for 3 full days was sufficient and I am happy to say I had the T. TIME. OF. MY. LIFE. I was with my best gals pretending to be famous and dancing our booties off. Half the fun was explaining to people where we were all from. Present in our group was technically 6 states and 1 country (I always make things complicated)- Hawaii, California, Colorado, Virginia, Maryland, Georgia and... Australia. *~W3'Re D!v3R$E~*
On Labor Day I had the fine pleasure of waking up way too early, taking a cab to the airport, taking a flight to LA, just to take a flight from there to New York. It was a day I hope to never relive. After all the happy screaming and attempting to sing at clubs all weekend, I had absolutely no voice. The stewardess couldn't even understand me when I tried to request tea as my one beverage on my sweet six hour American flight that gave me ZERO SNACKS. I went from feeling like Queen B, to a straight-up peasant, or the 4th member of Destiny's Child that no one remembers.
After arriving home to be picked up by my darling mother- who also couldn't understand my whispers- I fell asleep thinking about how my dad would react when I surprised him the next morning. My family (other than my mother, obviously) had no idea I was coming home for the week. My dad's reaction was hilarious at best. He was in full shock until he finally uttered- what, what happened? What did you do!? HAHA as if I had been deported from Aus. Even after I told him I had worked it out to come home for my cousin's wedding, he still couldn't comprehend the situation. "I'm just very confused". Lolz. Dads are funny.
When I got home to Newtown, it was time to surprise the Sissy. She was taking a nap after school when my dad went to wake her up. Then I rushed in screaming SURPRISE, to which she responded "HOLY S--T" hehe. I was skeptical she already knew I was coming home after a social media leak of a photo of Molly and I (and by leak I just mean someone posted it before I got home- not that serious). In the end, she hadn't a clue!
After finally settling in at home, I'm not exaggerating when I say I slept for 2 days straight. The voice-loss combined with all the flying done in such a short period of time led to a unenjoyable sinus infection and slight bedridden coma. Luckily, I was almost completely cured after my pops made Sancocho from scratch. I doused it with Tabasco and told my sinuses to GETOVERIT.
Saturday was my cousin's wedding, on my Dominican side, so naturally it was held in Queens. It was so good to see the crazy fam, even if for a short time. And when I say crazy, I mean de verdad, loco. The bride's family was a bit more on the conservative side and for this reason, there was no alcohol being served. Which was fine for me as I was still in recovery, but a nice glass of wine is always appreciated. Suddenly, my mom, aunt and uncle were sneaking off in a secret mission to get booze. It was a legitimate episode of Modern Family, and my mother was (and is always) Gloria. In her words, "If I'm gonna be around this crazy family, I'm gonna need a drink". I decided to join in the adventure to the liquor store and hopped in the car. Next thing you know, a super creepy Korean man is telling us "Oh ya this size fit into purse. Hide very nice"- all the while smiling way too eagerly. We got outta there quick and headed back to the wedding. Now the party could begin.
P.S. Amazingly I got my Kindle back a week later <3333 Cheers to the universe.