Last week I decided to treat myself to a trip to a local mecca of pleasure in the DC Metro area called Spa World. This little slice of heaven features seven different poultice room, several dry and wet saunas, various body and spa treatments, and the piece de resistance—wide-open bathing pools that all patrons must use in the NUDE. Yes, folks, this means ABSOLUTELY NOTHING but your birthday suit. I admit I was VERY intimidated as I was shedding my clothes. But child, soon as I hit those healing waters, all my inhibitions were gone and before I knew it, I had spent a full 5 ½ hours at Spa World.
While I thoroughly enjoyed my time at Spa World, I definitely noticed very quickly that I was one of very few black people there during my visit. During my 5 ½-hour stay, I counted exactly 15 other chocolate chips in the place. In an area as affluent as the DC Metro area, why weren’t we setting aside $40 dollars for a half-day of relaxation? I saw at least five groups of Korean women come in together, bathe, eat dinner, and enjoy great conversation. As much as black women loving communing together to dish and talk, why we spending our Friday nights in this way?
Quite simply, I don’t think that as black people we give ourselves permission to try new things that aren’t considered traditionally “black” activities. How many times have you heard someone say, “Black people don’t do that!” Well, says WHO?? And who exactly are these mysterious people who get to call the shots on what you can or cannot do as an African American? Why can’t black people go skiing or scuba diving or bungee jumping or any other wild life adventures without fear of being ostracized? Well, I’ve got news for you folks –WE CAN DO ANYTHING WE WANT TO! And darn it if I am not going to try and cram in as much adventure as my pocketbook and the law allows.
If you will let me, I am here to be your modern-day Harriet Tubman and guide you toward the North Star of Adventure. So here is my official list of 7 Adventurous Things That I Think Every Black Person Should Do. Here we go….
1. Vacation Alone
I have done this twice (the first time to Jamaica and the second time on a cruise to Bermuda) and both trips were AMAZING. Traveling alone forces you outside of your comfort zone and broadens your world by exposing you to all kinds of people.
2. Date Someone Outside Your Race
Nothing has challenged me more than to building a close bond with someone who has a COMPLETELY different background from you. For me, these relationships caused me to recognize that America is NOT the epicenter of the world and that there is SO much more to life than the just the African American experience. My dating card now includes an Italian, a gentleman from El Salvador, and a guy from at least every major country in West Africa. (Stay tuned for more on my adventures as the “West African Magnet.”)
3. Have a Conversation about Religion With… Someone Who Doesn’t Share Your Faith
Two of the BEST conversations I have EVER had about faith were with a fellow editor who is Jewish and a Muslim comrade I gained from a personal development program. They taught me about faith and devotion to God in a way that I never expected.
4. Try a Different Ethnic Cuisine At Least Once a Month
My friends will tell you that I will eat ANYTHING at least once. Sometimes my tummy pays for it later, but most of the time I am pleasantly pleased by my foodie experiments. My current ethnic cuisine favorites are Pho Soup and Coconut Sushi (to die for!).
5. Go Snorkeling
I went snorkeling in the Bahamas and it was so mind boggling to me to experience this whole other aquamarine world that I had only seen before in pictures. You haven’t lived until you’ve swum up close and personal with school of fish.
6. Go Camping
Two of my girlfriends took me camping for the first time in the fall of 2010. We made a fire, we cooked, and we even saw a cool presentation on bird from the Park Ranger. Overall, I was quite proud of myself for surviving at entire night under the stars.
7. Attend a Concert of an Artist You’ve Never Heard of or Barely Know
I saw rock-folk singer Mike Doughtery at The Birchmere in the fall of 2009 and rock legend Tom Petty at the Nissan Pavillion in the summer of 2002. I went to both concerts on a whim and enjoyed both shows TREMENDOUSLY. (Look for a detailed overview of the Tom Petty concert in an upcoming blog post.)
Maybe your idea of adventure isn’t going to a bath house naked or traveling alone, but maybe you can start by visiting that Indian restaurant you’ve been passing for years. Or getting a Groupon for a Yoga class or white-water rafting. Whatever it is, don’t limit your life by arcane rules about what you can or cannot do. Life is too short not to soak up all the adventure that you can. The African American experience and wild adventure are not mutually exclusive. Get out there and go get you some adventure TODAY!!!
P.S., Now I must admit and my white girlfriends (*cough Laura and Jessica cough*) have confirmed that I’m probably a little bit more adventurous and have more Anglo-Saxon tendencies than the average black woman. (I even have an entire, white-girl alter ego, Laurie, and a valley-girl voice that comes with these tendencies). So heed my suggestions with caution.
P.P.S. For my amazing white friends who are reading this (and I know you are!), if you aren’t getting enough adventure in your life, just cross out the words “black” and “African American” and go get you some adventure, too!