Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Salt Lake City - the details

My first day back to life after my brief getaway was crazy busy, so I’m just now getting a moment to write about my weekend in Salt Lake City. I’ll blog about today in another post, but here’s how my weekend went:

Friday I flew directly from NYC to Salt Lake City. Two of my very best friends live out there (attending University of Utah’s ballet program) and since I haven’t seen them in months and I desperately needed a break from my own life, I decided it was time to take a trip. I’ve never traveled that far before - in fact, the only “vacation” of my life was to Aruba when I was like, 10, and besides that the only place I’ve been outside of New England/New York is Florida for Miami’s summer intensive a few years ago. So I’ve never taken a “spring break” trip, and I’ve never been out to the west, and though many friends pass through New York and visit me, I never braved the effort to go see them. Alas! Here was my opportunity.

The whole thing came up very last minute, with the plane ticket purchase happening just a week prior to taking off. It’s good to be impulsive sometimes (well, this wasn’t really IMPULSIVE but…). Anyways I flew out on Friday and 5 hours later (7 with the time difference) I was standing in the mountains hugging my former roommate and friend Victoria.

That night we just hung around and chatted and gossiped and caught up with each other’s lives. You know, a long distance friendship can be tough, but somehow it felt like we hadn’t missed a beat. Many many many of my good friends are far away and I don’t see them often, but those relationships still stay strong (particularly those from my boarding ballet school years where we LIVED together like sisters) and I’m so grateful for that. Friday night, we laughed a lot as we recounted memories from the past few years, both together and apart.

Saturday we explored Salt Lake City a bit. I was mostly in the area near the college, so maybe other parts are different, but it didn’t really feel like a city. Coming from the hustle and bustle of NYC, this almost felt like suburbia. Even though her college has over 30,000 people (nearly 15 times what my college had!?) we kept running into people she knew everywhere. It had a small-town feel that compared to the town I grew up in outside Boston. It was cute.

We stopped in the city library for a while, which is a really beautiful, HUGE building. That kind of place makes you WANT to study. I posted a picture of the place from the library website the other day.

The only thing about visiting friends on their home turf is that they still have a life to live and work to get done and people to see. So Saturday night I went babysitting with Victoria, and we had some more laughs. At heart, I think we’re both still little kids, haha. We watched the movie Game Plan with the kids, which, by the way, is hilarious because it involves ballet. They actually used some people I know from Boston Ballet as the background dancers and stuff, so it was fun to see that. Movies about ballet crack me up…

Oh, also Saturday afternoon I got to see another of my friends that I traveled across the country for. We got coffee and talked. She brought me to a cute little shopping center that used to be an old train station. New York doesn’t have anything authentic quite like that.

Sunday was fun, too. Monday was Victoria’s birthday, but since she had school that day we celebrated mostly on Sunday. We had brunch and yummy ice cream cake with the family she lives with.

Then, of all things, we went on a hike through the mountains. Okay, when I was little we used to go up to a condo we rented in New Hampshire once or twice a winter for a weekend getaway…and honestly, I really kind of hated going, haha. Another best friend always came up with us and we did have fun in the indoor pool, but I couldn’t stand being outside in the cold mountains. My dad would have to almost force me to try skiing, sledding, hiking, ice skating, or any other mountainous activities. SO when Victoria suggested hiking so that I could really experience Utah’s mountains, I was a little weary.

It turned out to be really great, though. First of all, the weather was absolutely gorgeous, and the mountains picturesque. The path we walked - er, hiked - was really muddy and there was still some unmelted snow, but besides that it was quite lovely. I felt so rustic and connected with the earth, hahaha. Or as connected as I’ll ever be. I was so proud of myself, I only came close to falling 3 times!

After my nature experience (no mountains in Central Park…) the three of us met up for dinner all together, just like old times. I miss them terribly even though we talk often. When you go from seeing someone every day of your life to seeing them a few times a year, it’s tough. I still consider them some of my closest friends despite the physical distance.

Yesterday, Monday, it was time to say goodbye. Victoria had classes in the morning so I went with her to sit in the main building on campus to get internet while I waited. They have such a great facility…part of me feels like I missed out on the real college experience by going to school in the city with a very non-traditional campus. Utah’s campus felt so…traditional. BUT I don’t regret anything. I’m very non-traditional in more ways than one, and I could never have been happy at a “real college,” as I put it.

After her classes we went home to eat the leftover ice cream cake to celebrate her actual birthday, and then the cab came to take me to the airport. It was so long, Salt Lake, and a long day of traveling home. I didn’t get in til almost 1am this morning, and though it was quite an extended period of time on the go, I kind of felt the day of listening to my ipod and reading magazines while high above the clouds was necessary. For a brief time I was unreachable, and that was such a relief.

Now I’m back in New York and happy to be here. Anytime I leave the city, even if just for a weekend trip home, I return with a renewed appreciation for the city and for my life here. I think I’ve said this before, but anytime I see the Manhattan skyline as I approach - by plane, bus, car, whatever - I get the same thrill as when I first came as a little kid visiting with my parents, as when I first came as a teenager commuting to auditions, as when I first came as an independent person moving in to my own cramped New York City living space. It’s the thrill of opportunity, and no matter how far I go it will always be there.

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