My mall decorating on the east coast is done. Every bone aches after two weeks of non-stop, all-night work. I'm cut and bruised. And buff, of course. My feet, objects of pain on even a normal day, have gone well beyond their customary donation of discomfort. My steps are like dragging bare bones, wrapped in raw nerves, like wreaths wrapped in twinkle lights, across rough concrete.
This is no common interior decoration job. This is heavy construction. Fifty foot cranes. Twenty foot scissor lifts. Scaffolding and power tools. Ornaments of welded steel and chicken wire, big enough to stand in, heavy enough to crush you, hung from aircraft cable and chain.
The scale and expense of these decorations is mind-blowing. A crew of twenty works night after night to make hallways blink with lights, to build elaborate sets for elves and Santa pictures. The money. The time. The effort. The human experience. All for a massive project that will be laboriously dismantled, packaged, and lugged to storage, with trucks and freight lifts, in less than two months.
It seems as ephemeral and indulgent as a fireworks show - in which I'm a firework.
And yet, I'm told that this is nothing when compared to what is ahead. Vegas is the capital of overkill. All the malls together will not match the opulence and scale of the tacky monstrosities to be installed at Caesar's Palace and Forum Shops.
I never thought I'd say these things: I miss the sun; I dread the flight to Vegas, and even the stay; and somehow, most unbelievable of all, I feel more isolated now than during all my months in Millville.
This will be the longest month of my life, and all to finance a move to LA, all to watch the meager pay vanish in moving costs. Poof!
So temporary. So exhausting. So un-engaging. And so sad.