My security for a ski hill |

My security for a ski hill

Steve Benson

Walking home through the alleys of Aspen with a bag of dog food on my shoulder, I pass a series of small abodes packed to the walls with roommates. Next to them lies a collection of large homes that sit empty and lifeless most of the year.This is Aspen, or any-mountain-town-U.S.A., where the ratio of lifeless mansions to tiny ski-bum shacks becomes greater every year.This is no secret to most of us who struggle to eke out a living here.Visitors often say things like, “God, what I would give to have your life, to be a ski bum. I’d do it in a second, but I have too many responsibilities.”This is a common misperception, and one that I was under for years as a kid, a teenager, and later as a young adult. The walls of my boyhood room were lined with deep powder shots and images of towering Rocky Mountain peaks. I knew then that I didn’t just want to live vicariously through these pictures, I wanted to live in them.Now I do. I’m located just a few blocks from Lift 1-A and the trails of Shadow Mountain are out my back door. But I live in a tiny apartment – probably smaller than many of my neighbors’ closets – with my girlfriend and our dog. I make a very small amount of money, and the future is uncertain. What will I do if I want to have kids someday? Will I ever make enough money to raise a family? These were questions I never really asked when I was growing up – just get me to the mountains and everything will be okay.I suppose I could move to a city and find a job that pays and offers more security. But I can’t do that. I won’t do that. It’s not just that I want to live in the mountains, I have to. I’d trade security for a ski hill out my back door, a trout-filled river down the road and miles of untouched wilderness wrapped around me, any day of the week.I guess like so many before me, I’ll just have to find a way to make it work, whether it’s here in Aspen or in any-mountain-town-U.S.A.

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