Ikegami visits Malachi and Jena in their new Las Vegas home

As Malachi and Jena hoped for, and shared during the NHK tour, the move
to Las Vegas brought with it many big changes: a new apartment and car, new jobs
and schools, and a wedding!
(photo top-right was taken by Malachi on their wedding day)

The transition wasn’t easy. Early work opportunities proved turbulent, presenting challenges socially and financially, but by the time of the visit, Jena had resumed classes toward a degree in Architecture, and Malachi had finished training needed to advance in his new tech services job. Along with pups Tipsy and Cordi (who took to Eiko right away!), the two were working to make a home.

Above: Important family photos, especially of Malachi’s mom, who passed away
shortly before he began attending the Autism meeting in Second Life, along with
other precious collections.

Inspired by her mentor, Jena gave Ikegami a tour of The Venetian Hotel and Casino, revealing many tricks of scale and materials along the way, then led a long and enjoyable stroll through the mall, serenaded by gondoliers, many of whom are trained opera singers scouted from all over the world.

Malachi, Jena and Eiko, in the lobby of The Venetian.

Although sensory overload can make demanding work schedules and social engagement  even more so, the intensity of lighting and music on the Las Vegas Strip can actually be therapeutic for Malachi. Surprisingly, he and Jena like to head right down into the excitement to unwind after especially stressful days.

A period of adjustment on this first day, and a stop for lunch, allowed for deep conversation about Las Vegas itself – its demographics and city controversies. The mass shooting outside of Mandalay Bay Casino happened not long after the two first arrived, and Malachi expressed how both he and the city itself found a great deal of comfort and inspiration afterward, in the city’s new Golden Knights hockey team heading toward the finals.

Malachi and Jena wore Knights gear throughout the visit.

Above: View of the Las Vegas Strip from the Delano Hotel,
posing with Lady Gaga outside Madame Tussauds.

Back at the hotel, Ikegami wanted to learn more about Dungeons & Dragons, which is a highly imaginative and demanding game Malachi had begun to play again after a long break. “D&D” is very social, requiring spontaneous improvisations in line with a “Dungeon Master’s” vision and direction. It can be played online, or through Second Life, but playing in person gives Malachi opportunities to work with face-to-face social dynamics, and to build confidence.

Malachi’s favorite D&D character, as well as the special die he uses for the game
(photo taken himself), Scenes from a long conversation.

Along with Dungeons & Dragons, the topic of family support, or lack thereof, arose several times, and more about their plans for a larger wedding in the future. Malachi has been embraced by most of Jena’s large and interesting family, however things are not easy; they each have significant challenges that require great patience and skill from the other.

It is obvious how much strength and ease they offer one another as well.

The second day was a celebration their new marriage at an experimental steampunk-themed restaurant called The Boiler Room, then a walk through The Luxor, Malachi’s favorite hotel, inspired by his fondness for Egyptian history and mythology. His favorite photographer, Peter Lik, has a studio store in the attached mall, and although no photographs were permitted, it was great to view his work through Malachi’s eyes, then to play in a large hat store for a while.

At the apartment the following day, Ikegami was impressed to see examples
of Malachi’s own photography for which he won awards earlier in life. Conversation continued for hours, extending over lunch of burritos at the couple’s favorite
area restaurant.

Above: Their apartment is a treasure trove of sentiment and talent. Eiko holds Malachi’s plushies, while he talks about finding ways to manage the stress of long
work days and planning for the future.

Malachi’s ability to immerse in the worlds of characters, such as fictional heroes from favorite book series or his avatars in Second Life, is one of his primary methods
of finding meaning and motivation.

Eiko (Kiremimi) and Malachi wrap up their warm visit by going into Second Life as their avatars to attend the Brigadoon Explorers autism meeting.




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