Aspen Princess: A legacy of love for Aspen
The Aspen Princess
It was a little ridiculous, really. The skis barely stayed on his fat little baby feet. They’re just little plastic skis that a friend lent to us, with two little straps instead of bindings.
We were only able to get the ankle strap on because he’s still wearing crib-size shoes, baby shoes that aren’t meant for walking and most certainly aren’t meant for skiing.
Even though it was over 50 degrees we had him all kinds of bundled up, stuffed into his down bunting from Patagonia that makes him look like a marshmallow with feet, his striped Smart Wool beanie and these Gore-Tex booties that are really just like socks pulled up over the bunting with furry North Face booties underneath.
Ryan was determined, crunched over our 13-month-old son in what can only be referred to as “back-breaking pose” as he tried to line him up between his legs, these plastic skis dangling from his feet in a tangled mess, a real struggle to get the skis to run flat on the snow.
Still, in the video I’m squealing and giggling like a teenage girl, barely able to contain my excitement. I really lose it when they ski by me and I can hear the babe making that noise he makes anytime there is a vibration — in the car, in the stroller, in the backpack — he loves the way it echoes in his voice.
Like so many things about parenting, I never understood why people around here are so crazy about getting their kids into skiing — until I had my own. At the end of the short video, I’m practically screaming, “Thirteen months old and skiing!”
But it goes a lot deeper than that, so let me back up.
While I know there are a lot of you that vow allegiance to one mountain, I have always loved the fact that we have four mountains to choose from. I love that depending on the conditions, who I’m with, and whether I’m skiing or snowboarding, I’m pretty much guaranteed to have an awesome day.
I always have to chuckle at my friends who complain about Snowmass because it’s too inconvenient to get to, or it takes too long to get to the top of the mountain, or it’s a pain in the butt to park at the Rodeo Lot. Snowmass has always had a special place in my heart. It’s the place that made me fall in love with Aspen when I was 8 years old and fortunate enough to spend two weeks there with my parents on a ski vacation. I love its expansiveness, a world unto itself. As a kid, I remember feeling like I never saw the same place twice. Every day was a different adventure. In my young eyes, it was like a planet.
We stayed in one of those trailside condos just above the mall where the mountain becomes your world, where everything is snow-covered and accessible on skis, a maze of tight paths through trees and between buildings. Our place had one of those heated pools where you wade in from the lobby and then swim through a plastic screen to get outside. We would jump in the snow and then back into the hot water again. I was in ski school for two whole weeks and it was almost like summer camp, with new friendships and a revere for my ski instructor, Doug, that still burns in my psyche. I can still remember what he wore (a navy blue ski sweater with red, white and blue stripes, mirrored sunglasses with white frames and a thick coat of zinc on his nose). He had shaggy brown hair and windblown cheeks and I would have followed him just about anywhere. I guess in essence, I did.
I remember the barbecue picnic the ski school hosted for us at the end of each week, the smell of smoke wafting through the air, eating burgers under a denim blue sky inside a kaleidoscope of snow-capped peaks.
It was then that I decided I would one day live in Aspen.
I wanted a round house (not sure what that was about, but that was definitely an important detail in my fantasy) and a Jeep Wrangler.
It was one thing when I made those dreams come true for myself (the only exception being that my house is in Basalt and it’s a triangle instead of a circle, but it’s close enough). But to have a child and to raise him here, in this place I’d dreamed about since I was a kid, and to share with him the stuff my own dreams were made of is heart-busting stuff.
The thing is, this place still makes my heart sing the same way it did when I was a child. Maybe that’s why I feel a childlike exuberance every time I stand on top of Highland Peak in my pink pants and my hair in pig tails, wondering how I can still feel that way at 47. And maybe I should feel guilty that my kid is in day care and I’m off snowboarding, not working my butt off like so many moms I know, be it at home or at a full-time job. I’m out there on a powder day and my biggest problem is deciding which line to take. Lately it’s been a conundrum between fast, smooth lines down the gut or milking the ridge into the lower G-zones so the run lasts longer. It always reminds me of eating an ice cream cone — I can never make my bowl run last long enough.
Some people’s priorities and lifestyles change dramatically when they have a child, and in some ways mine have. But mostly, I’m beyond thrilled to share my life with him, to give him the gift that is Aspen.
The Princess just got a new pair of rainbow platform flip-flops and is wearing them around the house. Email your love to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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