Princess: Age is just a state of mind

Ali Margo
Aspen Princess

I always say you are one true age your whole life.

This true age has nothing to do with your chronological age and everything to do with the time in your life when your personality was fused into your soul. Or if you are an old soul, the age you were the day you were born.

I have friends who acted like little 42-year-olds when they were in grade school, and I am married to someone who still acts like he is 10. I know this to be true because my father-in-law supplied me with video evidence.

The video is a blurry old home movie shot with some giant camera Ryan’s dad got from the public school where he worked. It’s Ryan and his little brother Aaron and some nerdy kid from the neighborhood with bad glasses and a Mickey Mouse sweatshirt. They made a show called “Solid Silver” (loosely based on the popular ’80s show “Solid Gold”), which is basically Ryan lip-synching to popular early ’80s tunes with a bandanna tied around his leg playing air guitar with a broom while the younger boys fake-play their own instruments made out of other random household objects.

He looks very much like he does now, only with less frizzy hair and an adorable raspy voice. “Hi! I’m Ryan Margo, your host,” he says, his face practically pressed against the lens. “You get to spend the next hour with the guy who has the greatest personality, me, myself and I.”

It’s so startling, how much he hasn’t changed that we often torture our houseguests by forcing them to watch “Solid Silver” over and over again.

My parents never took any videos of us growing up. They just aren’t sentimental like that. I was a serious gymnast when I was young, yet there’s not a single photo of me at gymnastics. I’m not sure what that means. The way I remember it, I was at a pretty high level and had to be pulled out of school early for six hours of daily evening practice. I think I was pretty good, and I think I did some pretty impressive stuff, but maybe that wasn’t the case at all. I remember my coaches were always on me about my weight, and I have a vague memory of farting in the middle of my floor routine during a competition once, though I’m not sure if anyone heard it but me since there is loud music and everything.

Maybe I was fat and actually kind of awful at it and my parents protected me by making sure there was not a shred of evidence to taint my version of history. I wasn’t the most attractive kid in the world, a little chubby with thick, unruly hair. I was sort of like Ferris Bueller’s sister, brooding in the corner while my adorable little brother got all the attention and meanwhile I was sneaking off into the woods with future convicts. It’s no wonder my parents didn’t want to document that.

Ryan, on the other hand, was adorable and funny then, just like he is adorable and funny now.

But my point is I think our personalities are fused at a pretty young age and that is why it’s always the people we knew growing up who are the people who know us the best.

Just the other day I was reunited with a friend from high school who I haven’t seen in 25 years. Jen and I picked up exactly where we left off, at 15. I feel like I know her better than I know some of my close friends now. Maybe because there’s little need for pretense with someone you drank vodka with straight from the bottle in the middle of the day. We went to lunch with another high school friend and the three of us sat on the patio at White House Tavern with our beautiful food in this beautiful place talking about our lives now. I found myself bubbling over in a way I haven’t in so long. I felt effervescent, like a bottle of soda that hasn’t been opened since it got shipped to altitude, exploding all over the place with this energy that had been, well, bottled up. It was like a deeper part of me rose to the surface, the real part, the part that sometimes gets lost in the superficial innuendo of adulthood.

That said, there is nothing more bizarre than looking into the faces of your peers and seeing middle-aged women (even if we do look pretty damn good). Could we really be in our forties? Forties. Shorties. Snorties. Goonies. Goblins. Goobers. Is forty even a real word?

In my high school yearbook, on the page where they predict what the senior class will be doing in 20 years, under my name it read: “Alison Berkley is still late.” Not “Alison Berkley will be practicing law in New York City and marry a famous plastic surgeon” or “Alison Berkley will become a world-renowned professional surfer living on the North Shore of Oahu.” It pretty much said, “Alison Berkley is still lazy and unmotivated,” and I guess in some ways that’s true.

My friend Jen created a beautiful life for herself. She moved to Sonoma County, married a contractor, had two kids (a boy and a girl), and became a jewelry designer. She renovates Airstreams and dresses in flowing linen and has an eclectic style that also is elegant in a way only a girl from class can have.

I wonder what I look like through her eyes and I realized the answer is obvious: I’m exactly the same now that I was then. And the fact that I married a hunky maintenance man with gnarly tattoos and moved into a funky house deep in the mountains is probably no big surprise, either.

The real surprise is yet to come.

The Aspen Princess is being cryptic on purpose, so stay tuned! Email your love to