On December 29th, 2019 at 5:00 pm ET, I hopped into a car with my now fiancé, Patrick, as we headed to Wisconsin so that I can meet his family. We were only 6 months into the relationship at that time but I knew this man would eventually become my forever person. There was just something about him that I could feel in my gut.
The drive to Wisconsin was 31 hours long. We were tired and exhausted. We decided to only stop for food and gas and we alternated sleep. The whole ride, someone was sleeping while the other person was driving. Not once were we awake together for the ride. The journey to the destination was hard and rough but I did get to see a couple of things I had never seen before.
I’m a city girl so, please don’t judge me as you read the next line. I got to see a windmill for the first time. I had never seen one before and honestly didn’t know what they were used for. Patrick had to explain that windmills are used to create energy from wind, which I now find pretty awesome.
I also saw a farm for the first time. When I say this, I mean a full-farm. I had seen just a cow farm before but never have I ever drove past a farm with multiple different animals. The drive to Wisconsin was very scenic and a little scary since there weren’t very many people out there.
While in Wisconsin, I got to try some things I had never tried before. Patrick made sure that I had a memorable experience with his family and it was just that.
On day 1, I got to meet his grandparents. We spent pretty much the entire day at their home as they got to know me more and showed me around their house.
I truly loved being able to spend time with his grandparents. Grandparents are amazing but as we all know won’t be around forever. Spending time with people is important and truly what life is all about.
The next day, we went skiing. I went with Patrick, his mother, and his brother. You know that feeling you get in the pit of your stomach when you are falling? That’s how I felt while skiing. It was scary yet fun. His mother guided me and held my hand almost the whole time while I was skiing. To be honest, this is something I would try again but probably not something I would go out of my way to do. I did not like the feeling that I was constantly falling, plus I am afraid of heights and you do have to ski down a small or BIG hill otherwise, you’ll be still and won’t move. But, overall it was fun.
Let me tell you, by day 3, I was tired. Luckily, we partook in a slower snow activity - ice fishing. Have you ever gone ice fishing? I have only ever seen it on T.V. and didn’t think people actually did that.
You literally cut a hole in the middle of the ice and then remove all of the slush from that hole before you put your pole into the hole to catch some fish. Can you guys guess that I was able to get my phone down the ONLY hole that was in front of me. I was literally sitting in a chair and the next thing I knew, my cell phone slipped out of my pocket and fell directly into the hole. (Try not to laugh so hard at me as a stare down the hole that swallowed my cell phone).
Not only did I manage to drop my phone down the only hole that was in front of me, but I also burned a hole in my pants. Someone, please make the day end. It was terrible.
Overall, I tried new things like ice fishing and skiing. I saw things I had never seen before like an entire farm and windmills. I met people I had never met before, his entire family. In those moments I was my authentic self. I was true to myself. I was happy. Back then I had just ditched my 9-5 and life were great! I enjoyed everything that I was able to do and I was so proud that I could continue to live a life of freedom and travel.
Ya’ll this was post COVID. Yes, I traveled in 2020 but it was minimal and I managed to practice social distancing. I learned to never take things for granted. I taught myself that it’s okay to do things out of the box and try new things. I also learned that Wisconsin was not a state that I would like to live in or really ever visit again. I made a promise to myself that I would always speak my truth and in doing so, I must say that this state didn’t welcome my brown skin.
I remember an instance where I was walking around a store and I was intensely watched as if I was going to steal something. This didn’t just happen to me once. I was constantly watched. I was the only person of color skiing that day. I was surrounded by all-white families. No one came up and said anything but you could just tell they were thinking, “Why is there a black girl here?” Being black gives you a different perspective on life. I choose not to live my life in fear but I also have to be aware of when something doesn’t feel right in my core. I can’t be true to myself or my audience if I don’t speak about where somewhere is safe to travel for people of color or LGBTQ+ members.
What are some things you learned about yourself in 2020?
Cienna Richards is the CEO of Your Life Travel Club and a world traveler. Your Life Travel Club hosts international retreats and trips for women. Our mission is to empower women to live their best lives and travel the world. Connect with us on social media and subscribe to our weekly travel card to get all the updates on up-coming trips, blog posts, YouTube videos, and podcast episodes.