One of the funny things about travelling is that, sometimes, the most unexpected places become the dearest to your heart. When I visited my brother in Japan in 2005, for example, I expected to love Kyoto but didn’t foresee that the combination of chestnut desserts and a tiny bird flying onto my arm, just simply flying through the air and landing on my arm, just like that, hopping around on my wrist while watching me with head cocked for ten minutes with no fear, would make Obuse a place I’d never forget.
Similarly, when I went to Cedar City for the first time last year, I’d never considered Utah a must-see state and wouldn’t have known the city existed had I not decided to visit the one friend I knew there, a friend I’d only ever spent five days with before, in an entirely different state, two and a half years earlier.
Cedar City is now one of my favourite places in the world to visit, for more reasons than I can count. When I arrived back this year after road tripping with someone I also hadn’t known a year before, my heart started beating wildly, happily, exhilarated-ily.
The towering red-gold mountains beckoned, the streets were as familiar as if I’d been walking along them last week, the Utah Shakespeare Festival signs made me giddy, the grocery store was exactly where I’d left it, and I was on the cusp of seeing not only Sam again, but many of the other friends I’d made during my first visit. After a year of only Facebook and emails and texts, I was finally back.
Back with Andrew, who gives good hugs. Back with Emma, and Shay, and Josh, and a myriad other shining familiar faces as well as new friends who immediately zoomed into my heart (here’s lookin’ at you, Michael and Siobian and Carrie and Cory and Darrah and Axel).
Even, wonder of wonders, back with Vin (and 2am Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups), the stellar lady I met at the same time I first met Sam, way back in those Fiddler on the Roof days in Florida.
I’ll try to make my next Cedar City posts less self-indulgent, I promise. I’ll tell you about the pizza, and the ice cream (including the tragedy-to-triumph saga of the flash-frozen ice cream), and the pasta, and the Biscoff…
But today, all I can write, sitting here in Toronto, trying to find the words to describe my time in Cedar, is that:
Once upon a time in July I returned to Cedar City for three weeks, and it was so grand, so magical, and so filled with people whom I already miss so dearly that all I can write, tonight, is thank you, Utah. Thank you for being magnificent. I can’t wait to see you again.