Platts: Can’t buy me Aspen
In my time here I have found that the Aspen idea doesn’t always meet the eye. What I mean is that the perception the rest of the world has of us is only half the story. To the outsider, all of us Aspenites are buying astronomically priced houses and covering ourselves in extravagant animal furs. Each of us frequents Dolce and Gabbana or Prada and we dine at some of the finest establishments in the country. That’s the perception, at least. But underneath the rich cologne and the bourgie jewelry lies a whole other Aspen.
I started thinking about this after someone asked me an intriguing question last week. She’s recently started doing some research on Aspen and asked if I was ever intimidated to live in Aspen, if the exorbitant amounts of wealth ever made me feel bad about myself. I thought about my answer carefully, digging into years of memories in this place I now call home. This was a legitimate question. Aspen is home to many beautiful and wealthy people. I’ve been coming here a long time with my family, but we certainly don’t represent the extremely wealthy class in this town. And now I am just a working girl here, trying to make it in paradise just like everyone else my age. Even so, I couldn’t say I did feel intimidated. Besides the occasional self-deprecating moments — like when a runner speeds past me on the Ute Trail or when someone three times my age makes me look like an elephant attempting downward dog in a yoga class — I had to admit that my answer to her question was no. I didn’t feel overwhelmed by the wealth or beauty here. This town didn’t feel like a place where I had to worry about those things. Here, more than any other place I’ve lived, felt like somewhere I could entirely be myself.
In Aspen, the saying goes that you either have two houses or two job; that we are either the elite or the peons that work for the elite. That’s never been my Aspen experience, though, and I would believe that several people agree with me.
The people who live here year-round couldn’t give a damn about monetary values unless those values are large enough to get them heli-skiing in Alaska or rafting in the Grand Canyon. We search for adventures here and those are our riches. Alongside that we search for serenity with our surroundings and a sense of balance in our lives.
No, my diamonds aren’t from Tiffany. They hang in the night’s sky, clear enough for me to enjoy on a cloudless evening.
My scenic views aren’t acquired by paying to build the highest property on McLain Flats. They are discovered, changing every time depending on what mountainscape I can climb and what new area I’m able discover.
My drink choices aren’t the most expensive, but they are poured with care by good friends at places like Justice Snow’s.
My goals don’t involve dollar signs. They include check marks on a map of Colorado’s mountains, with a particular focus on the 14,000-foot peaks.
My dog isn’t a pure bred. But pure is his smile when he jumps in a cold stream or treks up a mountain.
My values don’t come from a wallet or bank account. They come from the company of good friends situated around a fire for a weekend camping trip.
So am I intimidated by Aspen’s wealth? Not really. I feel like one of the richest people alive, getting to live here and have the adventures I do. We may have some of the highest priced real estate in the country, but there’s no correct dollar amount for living in Aspen and getting to be a part of this community. It’s simply priceless.
When riches are looked at this way, it becomes clear to me that #AspenLiving is truly hitting the jackpot.
Barbara Platts believes there is no better present than experiencing an Aspen summer, but would like to make clear that she does in fact like diamonds and does not oppose receiving them as gifts. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Former race-car driver, current Lewis Cellars winemaker Randy Lewis hosts Aspen dinner alongside chef Byron Gomez as part of the “Aspen Summer Supper Club Series” at 7908.