"I am not America's nightmare, I am the American Dream" Grammy nominated and my total icon Janelle Monáe states on her track: Crazy, Classic, Life.
I have always had a crazy, classic, life, but never felt comfortable sharing it with others or living totally in my truth and as of lately I've been stepping closer and closer into the light. In doing so, I've been doing more of what I want to do - like travelling.
This trip came together in the most unique way. After knowing nothing about Utah for 22 years of my life, other than the fact that it was a state, my best friend, Kinoia, gets selected to attend a leadership conference (Go Kin!) in Salt Lake City in November of 2018. The mention of Utah planted a seed in my mind in that I realized that I do not think about Utah - at all.
I wished her luck on her trip and asked her to send photos.
A few weeks later I was on set as a Production Assistant for a comedy sketch with Denied From New York. While introducing myself to the crew, I learned that the director, Maria, was from Salt Lake City, Utah.
Cool. My best friend just went there.
A few weeks after that I was freelancing at the Deadspin Awards, where I met another freelance videographer. As we were setting up our cameras, I asked her where she was from.
Salt Lake City, Utah. Okay Utah, I see you.
I was shook, but didn't take it seriously. Somewhere in December, I sat on FaceTime with my darling, and only photographer I trust to shoot me, Sharimar, and fantasized about a life where we could work freely and have no worries. A life without stress or troubles. One where we could pick up and go skiing for no reason. Get a cabin, have an outdoor jacuzzi, drink wine, etc.
As we dove into our little fantasy trip, I received a Snapchat notification from my ultimate friend, Trevor. Trevor is a 23 year old pilot who simultaneously inspires and taunts me with his everyday travels to various islands, states and countries throughout the week. This time, he sent me a photo of his itinerary to Utah. To go skiing.
Shar, I need to call you back.
I called Trevor immediately and asked him when he planned to go and it just so happened that it was the weekend before I was supposed to go on a previously scheduled trip to St. Croix (We'll get into that at a later time).
This was a sign. So I opened my Jetblue app and purchased a one way return ticket from Utah to NYC with my TrueBlue points (I had 12,000 pts. and it was an 8,000 pt. trip).
So now I have to go.
Trevor had booked this vacation with his boys, leaving me to hurriedly try to round up a group of girls to come with me too. It was last minute, I had no research to give to people, and skiing is expensive.
The trip resulted in myself and my girl Jamie (Also referred to as Coy - who was the best at helping me record and a total fashion icon!) heading to Utah from Feb. 8 - Feb 12.
From there we got a hotel at the Zermatt Utah Resort & Spa. I LOVED them. Everything was absolutely fabulous from the customer service, to the food at Wildfire Smokehaus, to the spa, to the pool, to the OUTDOOR HOT TUB I FANTASIZED ABOUT.
Coy and I had a blast. We got a chance to develop our friendship, define our womanhood, clear our heads, go to the spa, get massages, rant, ski, drink, eat - everything. This was such a well needed trip and allowed for ample growth.
Skiing in it of itself is an expensive sport. I had to pay for rental equipment, a lift ticket, gloves, a rental locker, and more. Shoutout to Sharimar for styling me in my Columbia coat and Oakley shades, and my girl Mabel who loaned me some well-needed ski pants.
I only skied one day and opted out of taking a lesson because - expensive. Everybody in Utah is nice as hell. The nicest people on the planet. I was in disbelief. Random strangers helped me in so many ways. Every time I fell, there was someone willing to help me up. When I was unable to slow down, or figure out how to stop, thus resulting in me clumsily bumping into everyone, people were there to prop me up and say "it's okay".
There were endless words of encouragement on that mountain - and in the state in general. I received so many compliments on my hair, my clothes (The 'You look like you're from New York' tickled me every time), and more.
The nicest state on the planet.
No lie, I had no clue what Utah was like, I feared the people might be racist because that's the perception of the Midwest that I had.
This trip to Utah opened my mind all the way up to the dynamics of society - especially as it relates to the United States and how I'm defining my role within it as a young, Black, woman from the U.S Virgin Islands, with two college degrees, a job, the ability to be resourceful and a strong desire to travel.
I am modern day America. Literally what my ancestors prayed for. An American. This is America.
And that's amazing.
I made friends on every leg of this trip and developed the friendships I already had with Jamie and Trevor.
Utah 2019 was an ever blessed trip and I'm so grateful for this experience.
Traveling is something I had always seen myself doing, but never thought I'd have the finances to do so. I've since realized that traveling is possible and I will share those journeys here.