I grew up in a tiny town not but a few miles from a fairly famous, mountain resort. Of course, I had little to no idea about the luxuriousness of my upbringing because I was, as it were, a local, and for anyone who knows what it’s like to live where the rich and famous play, being a local means more to the locals who live there than being local means to those who visit. The vast majority of available jobs were/are seasonal and cater to the catering of tourists (e.g., hotels, restaurants, ski/snowboarding instruction, golf caddies). When a person grows up among the illustriousness of luxury, one ends up with a skewed perspective of one’s own privilege and a misguided perception of what normal encompasses.

The other thing about being a local in a tiny town of exclusivity is that tiny towns are also tiny in ways that a person cannot fully comprehend until that person leaves that tiny place and sees the tiny town set against a vastly larger landscape of diversity. I don’t write about such things in an attempt to brag (and honestly, I’m just fulfilling this writing exercise in order to honor an agreement I made with myself regarding writing in the month of December. Don’t be fooled that I have no understanding about how truly bad this particular exercise is, and just as a side note to myself, I’ve been sick in bed all day this day) or highlight my awesome life. Instead, I write about these things now in an attempt to make sense of my personal outlook and general perception of the world.

I was lucky enough to have had parents who sought to open my mind and eyes to the reality of the world at large. No, most people don’t live a life like mine, and no, most people don’t ever even get the opportunity to see for themselves that other people in other parts of the world do not live a life like their own, good or bad. I was fortunate enough to have parents who decided that seeing the world was important, but more importantly, I had parents who had the means or had the means to gather the means to send me around the world. And so, from a very young age, I learned that my small world that existed —essentially on the two-dimensional plane of Highway 82— was not even close to significant, but also, it did not even come close to encapsulating the true diversity of the world.

Today, I feel nothing but gratitude for the way I was raised, for the place wherein I was raised. Despite its overall tininess and bubble-like grandiosity, my hometown was safe, exciting, fun, interesting and privileged. I have not returned in years, so I cannot say what it is like today. Nevertheless, I am also incredibly grateful to my parents for always emphasizing that “the valley” did not and could not teach me everything that I would need to know in order to become a functioning, empathetic, globally-minded member of Earth.

As an adult, however, I do sort of blame my parents for raising me in such a beautiful, aspirational place. I honestly feel as though they’ve ruined much of life for me because there are so few places that are as beautiful and special as the place of my childhood. The search, however, continues. Despite how rare the world wants to make me believe that gemstones and diamonds are, I know better. They’re everywhere, but people have preferences. So, to find that perfect stone hidden deep in the rough that is not only accessible but also, my favorite color, is not impossible, of course. It will, no doubt, require a lot of work to find.