It’s a helluva town, isn’t it? | AspenTimes.com

It’s a helluva town, isn’t it?

Meredith L Cohen

MAMARONECK, N.Y., Nov. 26 – It’s good to be back in civilization.While civilization is precisely one of the things I sought to move away from two years, two months and 13 days ago, sometimes, every once in awhile, it just feels so good to want something and not have to dream about the day, long far away, when it will come to fruition in my medicine cabinet and/or refrigerator. Walking into a drug store in this suburban New York village earlier this week was practically an orgasmic experience. (No, it wasn’t that kind of drug store.) Simply seeing a wide variety of shampoos, deodorants and antiseptics that were not only not full price plus a couple of bucks thrown in just because they can, but actually offered at a discount, gave me goose bumps.Some people go to restaurants when they’re hungry. Others go to movies when they’re bored. I was neither the other day when I went to the supermarket, but the pure entertainment that ensued will be etched in my memory for at least the next several weeks. It was utterly compelling walking up and down the aisles and imagining (or remembering) what it must be like to live somewhere where there are more than two overpriced, limited-selection supermarkets. And, if I wanted even more of an assortment, I didn’t have to drive 40 miles west for a few extra, slightly less expensive choices. I just had to drive over by the train station or onto the main drag. As a bonus, finding a parking spot at any of the stores didn’t require padding my schedule with an extra 45 minutes – all the stores had ample parking for everyone! Christmas really did come early this year!And then I went to Costco and I thought about moving back to New York. Or into a Costco. Seriously.I didn’t realize until this week that in some ways, it’s been a long two years, two months and 13 days. Let’s be honest. Clearly Aspen is a paradise for skiers, bikers, hikers, general outdoors enthusiasts, dog lovers and Hummer owners. But if your biggest day-to-day needs beyond any of the aforementioned is generally limited to some lip balm, paper towels or sliced mango, is it so abnormal to fantasize about having a real live big box store in your town, or at least a town near you? (No offense to the new Target in Glenwood Springs, but the stores I’m talking about have or imply a “Super” in their name.)So the dilemma arises whenever I leave New York to go back to Aspen: How much room is leftover in my suitcase and for what do I have space? My carry-on item is non-negotiable. The matzo ball soup that my mom whipped up from scratch prior to Thanksgiving is carefully packaged in air-tight containers and wrapped in heavy duty plastic freezer bags and occupies my allotted airplane overhead compartment space. I gave my boyfriend his first taste of my mom’s fluid magnum opus last year, and after just a little taste of heaven, he was led to the mistaken conclusion that the remaining quarts in the freezer could be consumed upon the onset of mere hunger. He very quickly learned that permission slips signed by me are required before breaking into the stash. A valid reason for sipping the soup is necessary because the liquid gold reserve actually cures two very specific ailments: head colds and homesickness.And, given my propensity to over-pack for every possible weather scenario in New York before I leave Colorado, if, while I’m here, I buy a sweater or find myself the recipient of a homemade art project from my niece or nephew, all my extra suitcase space is eaten up. I’ve spent many plane rides from LaGuardia to Denver wistfully wondering if there were better ways I could have organized my suitcase to make room for the brand of moisturizer I like so I could avoid buying it in Aspen, where I first have to apply for a loan before I’m able to afford the purchase. If only Aspen would consider allowing in its hemisphere a Sam’s or BJ’s Wholesale Club. Oh sure, at first the tree huggers will cry, “Overdevelopment” and the longtime locals will shudder and whimper, “But we’re too charming to buy toilet paper in bulk!” However, I’m convinced that if we round up all the naysayers for a field trip on a fancy new hybrid RFTA bus to one of the major discount retailers in Denver or Grand Junction, their minds will be changed as soon as their carts are chock full of 19-gallon bottles of cranberry juice, 72-ounce tubes of toothpaste, vats of peeled garlic and 15-pound jars of cashew nuts (on sale!).While being in civilization has its disadvantages (anyone who ever thought the person behind them in the checkout line at Clark’s Market was impatient or rude should come to New York and find out what happens when you’re in a car and pause for a second before hitting the gas when the light turns green), the Pitkin County commissioners and the Aspen City Council could at least consider the chunk of land between Buttermilk and the airport for a new shopping center. After all, what else is going on over there besides some sage growth and a whole bunch of boring open space? The environmentalists will be thrilled when they realize that they can get the oil in their SUVs changed at the same time they shop for stainless steel gas grills on which to cook the hot dogs they purchased in packages big enough to feed everyone in Snowmass. And the people at the new Burlingame housing complex will be happy that they simplysee Cohen on page A9won the lottery – they don’t actually get picturesque views, too, do they? While being somewhere where the population in a 40-mile radius far exceeds 30,000 is nice for a time, Meredith Cohen is still very much looking forward to returning to the mountains tomorrow. Questions or comments may be e-mailed to meredith_cohen@hotmail.com.

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