Aspen Untucked: Relaxing in the Blue

Barbara Platts

When it comes to high school academics, I have to admit, my memory is hazy. Sure, I recall certain themes and stories, but frankly, most specifics have long disappeared.

However, there’s one lesson that has always stuck with me. It occurred in health class. I can’t even remember what the full lecture was about. Health class tends to be so awkward that most of us block it out. But there was a particular Powerpoint slide that is seared into my memory, and no, it’s not the one about female and male genitalia.

This slide explained that there are three main stages of friendship. When we meet someone that becomes our friend, we start in the green stage. Everything is fresh and new. We’re learning about each other and having fun. As the friendship grows, we’re promoted to the red stage. This is when the rough patches come in. Friends may butt heads as they get to know each other in deeper ways and realize one another’s differences. This is the stage that makes or breaks a friendship. If the two friends can graduate from the red, they arrive in the third and final stage: blue. Here, the two compadres have accepted each other for who they are, they realize each other’s good and bad qualities and find peace and harmony in that.

I have no idea who invented these stages of friendship or what their rationale was for doing so. This was 10 years ago, so by now things could’ve gotten much more complicated. There could be 10 stages, maybe even half stages at this point. However, that slide that was projected onto the board a decade ago has always stuck with me. It’s a way I rationalize struggles and successes in my relationships. Granted, I have not necessarily experienced all of these stages with each of my friends, but the general outline rings true in many cases.

I recalled this health class slide last weekend, when some of my very dear friends came together for a fun Aspen ski weekend. Our group all used to live in this mountain town together, but over the years, many of us have separated and moved on. One friend just bought a house in Vermont. Another is working hard at an investment firm in San Francisco. Two are living in Denver, one attending law school and the other managing a marijuana grow operation. Although a few friends have found great career success in Aspen and remain here, our group is no longer one single entity. We can’t meet on the mountain or over aprés cocktails. We survive via group texts, phone calls, and the occasional face-to-face get-together. We recently instated a mandatory reunion for at least once a year because we’ve realized what a difference it makes when we actually get to see one another.

Anyone who has ever had a friend move away (and let’s face it, who hasn’t?) knows how hard long-distance communication can be. But our group works hard to stay in touch, trying to not only have a past with one another, but a future.

The two-and-a-half days we spent in Aspen last weekend were full of silliness. We skied by day and partied by night, oftentimes concluding the day by rolling around on the floor in the early hours of the morning, reminiscing about past happenings and looking forward to future endeavors. My tummy ached at times from all of the laughter.

By the time we all had to say our goodbyes, I came to a very comforting realization. When it comes to this group, the O.G. Aspen crew, I’ve been lucky enough to reach the blue stage. All of us have been through the ringer and come out on the other side still caring for one another.

Even if we do have distance in between one another, and we have to work harder to spend time together, my heart is so full knowing that, when it comes to these beautiful people, a lifetime friendship awaits. There’s not much more a girl could ask for.

If you read last week’s column, Barbara wants you to know she still has Las Vegas stories to share, but those will come at a later time. Reach her at or on Twitter @BarbaraPlatts.