Harrah’s Reno has left the light on.
When Gov. Steve Sisolak ordered Nevada casinos to close on March 17 to slow the coronavirus, many lights could be seen aglow at Harrah’s. As folks checked out and the property shut down, the lights went out.
Now, in the hotel tower overlooking South Virginia Street, there’s only one fully illuminated window visible from the outside. It’s seven floors down from the top, the room at the south end of the hall.
For the past 10 days or so, I’ve wondered about that light breaking through yonder window. From my condo a few blocks west, I’ve watched for the glow to emerge each evening as dusk arrives.
“The Shining” meets noodle bowls
At first, I waxed romantic about the light.
Is one last guest living in the room who can’t make it home? Maybe it’s a caretaker, treading empty hallways, à la “The Shining?” How is this person surviving? Depleting the minibar (yay, free!)? Microwaving noodle bowls? Is there enough TP?
But the light never ceased breaking, even in the wee hours (I checked during bathroom breaks), so it became clear no one was sheltering in place seven floors from the top.
Huh. I waxed philosophical instead.
The light is a sentinel, I think, a witness to turbulent times. It’s a beacon for those who discover it, a call to summon grit. It’s the after-afterglow of a party that might never return to Reno. It’s all three, all at once.
Keeping ghosts happy?
Yesterday, I let daylight disabuse me of my musings.
I walk over to South Virginia, look up at the tower, count down to my room. A lamp sits in the window, framed by the valance and partly drawn curtains. The lamp is clearly on, probably left that way accidentally as rooms were closed for the shutdown.
Or maybe not.
As I walk away, feeling oddly dejected, I remember an old theater superstition, that a light should be left burning on the stage of a darkened house to appease theatrical ghosts. Do hotel ghosts need to be kept happy, too?
Every night since I noticed it, I’ve looked at the light just before I get into bed. I find the routine comforting. I hope the light doesn’t get shut off; I hope it glows every night until we’re through the pandemic.
Sometimes, a light is just a light. And sometimes it’s more.
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