As Mathis and Jenny 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 Mathis 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, Jenny had resumed classes toward a degree in Architecture, and Mathis had just finished the training needed to advance in a 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 Mathis’s mom who passed away
shortly before Mathis began attending the Autism meeting in Second Life, and
other precious collections.
Inspired by her mentor, Jenny gave Ikegami a tour of The Venetian Hotel and Casino, revealing tricks of scale and materials along the way. Then we took a long and enjoyable walk through the mall, serenaded by gondoliers, many of whom are trained opera singers scouted from around the world.
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 also be therapeutic for Mathis. Surprisingly, Mathis and Jenny like to head right down into the excitement to unwind after especially stressful days.
A period of adjustment and a stop for lunch on this first day, allowed for deep conversations about Las Vegas itself, its demographics and city controversies. The mass shooting outside of Mandalay Bay happened not long after the two first arrived, and Mathis especially, shared how both he and the city itself found a great deal of comfort and inspiration in the city’s new Golden Knights hockey team heading toward the finals.
Mathis and Jenny 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 Mathis 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 through Second Life, but playing in person gives Mathis opportunities to work with face-to-face social dynamics, and to build confidence.
Mathis’s favorite D&D character, as well as the special die he uses for the game
(photo taken by Mathis himself), Scenes from a long conversation.
Along with Dungeons & Dragons, the topic of family support, or lack thereof, arose, and more about their future plans for a larger wedding with family and friends. Mathis has been embraced by most of Jenny’s large and interesting family, however, this doesn’t mean things are 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 of Mathis and Jenny’s new marriage at an experimental steampunk themed restaurant called The Boiler Room, and a walk through Mathis’s favorite hotel The Luxor, inspired by his fondness for Egyptian history and mythology.
Mathis’s favorite photographer, Peter Lik, has a studio store in the mall, and although no photographs were permitted, it was great to view his work through Mathis’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
Mathis’s own photography, which he had won awards for earlier in life. Conversation continued for hours, extending over lunch at their favorite area restaurant, for enormous and delicious burritos.
Above: Their apartment is a treasure trove of sentiment and talent. Eiko holds Mathis’s plushies, while he talks about finding ways to manage the stress of long
work days and planning for the future.
Mathis’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 and Mathis wrap up their warm visit by going into Second Life as their avatars Kiremimi and Malachi, to attend the Brigadoon Explorers autism meeting.