It all started with the desire to see floating lanterns. It had been a dream of mine to release a lantern into the sky and watch it float with hundreds of others lanterns. I had no idea whether or not the U.S. held any lantern festivals in any of the states, but I was going to find out no matter what.
I started googling lantern festivals in the states. Much to my disappointment, I realized there were none. There were two lantern festivals that looked fairly popular-the lantern festival in Thailand, and the lantern floating festival in Hawaii. If I saved enough money, I might be able to go to one of these, but what I really wanted was to find a local lantern festival that would be fairly easy to get to without getting on a plane.
After much research however, I discovered RiSE-a new lantern festival that would be coming to Vegas.
“Babe, get ready,” I told my then boyfriend-now husband, “we’re going to this lantern festival.”
I bought tickets, had a friend graciously book us rooms at Circus Circus, googled Vegas attractions we could go to, and, after much thought, reserved roundtrip tickets for Vegas on the Greyhound bus. All that was left to do was wait…
Finally, the big day arrives. We are up hours before the sunrise. We are tired but also excited. We try exercising patience as we wait to to be told when we can board the Greyhound bus. My boyfriend gets up to buy a meal and I sit patiently, waiting for him to return… until I receive a message from him stating he’d dropped his burger. Our adventure had begun.
There seemed to be jaw-dropping attractions everywhere we turned. I wondered if we’d be able to cover every single hot spot in Vegas but decided to simply cover as much as we could and save the rest of what we couldn’t see/experience for another time. One thing was certain… I was having the time of my life, and I was creating memories with my most favorite person in the world. Nothing else mattered.
I felt like I was living in a dream; I felt like a real-life princess. My man was holding my arm, keeping a close eye on me, moving me away from oncoming traffic on the sidewalks, and walking me through a different direction when he’d spot a group of cigarette or pot smokers coming our way. We were hitting the best spots on the strip- The Bellagio Fountain (which turned out to be one of my most fav attractions), the Mandalay Bay Aquarium (my husband’s first experience in an aquarium), and the High Roller (the ride that made me act like a sissy)- just to name a few. Every day in Vegas felt like an extended date that I never wanted to end.
When one experience ended, another one started. And the best one was yet to come…
After what seemed like an eternity, we were finally on our way to experience the very first lantern festival held in the states. My boyfriend/now husband and I wore matching Kingdom Hearts shirts & I had (shamelessly) spent a little extra time perfecting my hair and makeup. This night had to be perfect. It had to go down as one of the best memories of my life. It had to mean something extra special, and I was going to make sure of that.
Although I had no idea what to expect, the evening turned out to be more magical than I had imagined it would be, and better than I had planned out. The videos of lantern festivals in other parts of the world were beautiful, but experiencing the magic of a lantern festival…? Well, it’s definitely different.
One dance under the night sky, a public proposal, 2 lanterns released, and a breathtaking scene of hundreds of floating lanterns in the sky-Best. Date. Ever!
I was still in a daze when I got back home. “Did that REALLY happen?! Wow! That REALLY happened! To ME! It wasn’t a dream. It wasn’t someone else living it. It really was ME!”
It’s been nearly 3 years since this event took place in my life. I haven’t forgotten it. Life has a way of getting me to focus on the things that aren’t going well in my life; to make me forget the memories that i hold dearest to my heart. Today, I choose to embrace the memories that I’ve almost allowed to slip away.
Life isn’t perfect- there’s sorrow, pain, anger, problems to resolve or get over, people to forgive, and lessons to learn from- but there will always be beautiful memories to cherish, to lighten up my spirit, and to remind me that there are better days ahead.
A few months ago, it was decided that a trip would be made to the RiSE Lantern Festival this October to honor/celebrate Kairi’s life, my beloved daughter who I look forward to seeing one day soon.