Aspen Princess: From the mountain top, through a few valleys and back, eight years of great
The Aspen Princess
Eight years ago today, at high noon on top of Aspen Mountain, I married Ryan in a ceremony that was truly fit for a princess. I promised to love him “in powder and in ice” and “with Highland Bowl as our witness.”
It should have cost at least double what we paid for it, but therein lies the most beautiful thing about living in Aspen — people really do take care of each other. If ever there was an appropriate time to cash in on the old “ski bum currency,” this was it.
I originally imagined our wedding would be a very laid back, mountain-style affair. I thought I’d wear a short dress with cowboy boots, a crown of fresh flowers in my hair. I imagined a backyard wedding with Mexican food, a bluegrass band, and kegs of really good beer.
I don’t know how we went from tins of black beans and burritos to a plated luncheon at the Aspen Mountain Club; from dusty boots to Christian Dior silk stilettos; from a short dress to a Claire Pettibone gown; or a flower crown to hair extensions, but that’s what happened.
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“I’ll buy one shoe and you buy the other,” my mom suggested when we saw those little pieces of art for your feet in the store window, perched on a glass pedestal something out of an Aspen fairytale. With all those zeroes, it was the only way we could justify the price.
I still have those shoes, sitting on top of a shelf in my closet where I can look at them every day. I have often thought of having a special shadow box made so I could hang them on the wall like art. Every year, I wear them on our anniversary, even under jeans, even if we are in Moab, or Silverton, or wherever our anniversary trip takes us.
Truth be told, we haven’t been on one of those trips since Levi was born. Hell, we can’t even find a babysitter to watch him so we can go out to dinner alone. He’ll come along with us, and it will be a family affair as most everything is these days. Thank god Tempernillo has a playground for us desperate midvalley parents to allow us to spend our money on a halfway decent meal instead of a babysitter.
A lot has changed in eight years. We moved downvalley, bought a house, had a baby. Ryan got a big job, I became a mother who works part time.
We love being parents and experiencing the world through his eyes has given us the chance to slow down, enjoy the moment and appreciate the small stuff: an afternoon at the park, a walk along the river, a short bike ride along the Rio Grande Trail, time at the pool and the stillness of the house during naps. Best of all, getting out on the mountain to ski with a young child is like going back in time and doing it all over again. The discovery, the excitement, and the joy aren’t dependent on 6 inches of fresh snow but the first time riding a real chairlift; the sound of your child’s shrieks and giggles as he feels the pull of gravity; the moment you know they understand why this life is so important to you and why you have built your life around this, and his life for this.
We’ve also had some hard times. Ryan’s beloved German Shepherd George died from Leukemia on Halloween in 2012. We lost our first pregnancy in 2014 and went through two more rounds of fertility treatments before we finally got pregnant with Levi in 2015. Ryan changed jobs, going from his beloved Maintenance Man of the Century position at Centennial to managing a T-shirt print shop in Carbondale for a friend, to working for property management and landscaping companies that meant crazy hours and crappy pay until he finally landed his dream job at Colorado Rocky Mountain School. There, he can do the kind of work he loves, which means a little bit of everything, but still be a part of a community. He takes his role as Director of Building and Grounds as seriously as if he were CEO of a Fortune 500 company. Thank god one of us is a hard worker.
Then we lost our beloved Gertie, the pug I am not supposed to write about, but you have all heard that story too many times already.
That said, I don’t know what people are talking about when they say marriage is hard, or that marriage takes work. I don’t know what this “seven-year itch” is supposed to mean. My marriage is what makes the hard things easier. It’s the only relationship in my life that doesn’t take work. If there is an itch, Ryan is the one who scratches it. If anything, time has flown by, evidenced by the wrinkles around our eyes and the flecks of gray in our scalps and the softness around our bellies (OK, so that was always there, but you know what I mean).
I don’t know why or how I was able to find this man. Maybe it’s because we married later in life and we were wiser, more comfortable in our skin, and truly ready to settle down. Maybe it’s because both of our sets of parents are still married after 50 years and set the perfect example for what a long-lasting love is. Maybe it’s because there is such a thing as love at first sight and love that was meant-to-be and the forces of the universe can bring two people together. Maybe we do have more than one lifetime and relive our relationships in different forms over and over until we get it right.
I’m pretty sure we’re getting this one right. And if we’re not, we have the rest our lives to work on it.
The Princess is thinking about getting her eyelids done. Send your referrals to email@example.com.
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Wayne Hall took a job as an air traffic controller at the Aspen-Pitkin County Airport in 2003 thinking he would stay for a short time. Instead he stayed for nearly 17 years and was promoted up to the position of air traffic manager. He reflected on the experience upon retirement.