Aspen Princess: Romance rewind: looking for love in all the wrong places
The Aspen Princess
Due to my low maturity level, many of my close friends are at least 10 years younger than I am.
That means they’re in their early 30s, a point in their lives when they’re inundated with weddings and baby announcements and the kinds of milestones in life that send people hurtling in different directions, like a spaceship blasting into orbit.
If you’re lucky, your friend marries a guy you like, and so you gain a friend instead of losing one. That can happen even if you like the guy, especially when the guy says, “Let’s move to California,” and packs up all your friend’s belongings and carts her off to another time zone.
You don’t really process this as it’s happening. You just help out with the going-away party and assume she’ll be back, because no one ever really leaves Aspen for good, right? I mean, the rule is you get one going-away party and that’s it. Once you come crawling back with tales of how New York City/San Fran/the city you grew up in isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, or how you miss skiing and you miss your friends, no one is going to take you that seriously if you talk about moving again. And besides, the Roaring Fork Valley really does have a curse, which is why most of the kids who grow up here end up coming back for good.
But every once in a while, there is a force greater than Aspen that sucks your friend out of the rhythm of your daily life and sends her, at warp speed, into another stratosphere. You assume she’ll come back to visit, but a year goes by and then two, and the only time you see her is at her wedding. Facebook makes it worse in a way because you know what she’s up to, that she’s getting along just fine in her new home and making new friends and doing all the things she loves. The new place is actually really cool, and maybe it’s even cooler than here in some ways.
Marriage is one thing, but baby is another. I was nice enough to wait until the dawn of menopause to venture toward motherhood, so I was there, man. I was there for you until the very last minute.
And with mere months left before I too become one of these women who don’t return phone calls and can’t get together for more than 17 minutes and never sleep and can’t focus on any given topic for more than 20 seconds before their eyes glaze over and/or their little humans need something from them to survive, I’ve been trying to give my friends as much as I can.
Here’s the crazy part: Nothing has changed. The struggle to find a good man in the town where they coined the motto “The odds are good but the goods are odd” remains the same.
I think what it comes down to is wearing down the tolerance level to a point where you’re just not willing to accept it anymore, when commitment phobia and alcoholism and self-medicating with weed are no longer acceptable because “it’s part of the lifestyle.”
“Remember the crap I used to put myself through?” I asked my friend Dana, trying to appease her. I’d suggested that her current relationship was less than she deserved. “Remember how you girls would get so frustrated with me? Counseling me for hours and hours only to have me ignore all your advice and go running right back into the fire?”
She nodded, her eyes brightening just a little bit, her lips forming a hint of a smile as she surely remembered the scene: me, wasted and heading out the door with the guy who was dragging me through the mud, just in case I hadn’t been soiled enough.
“I honestly have no idea why I did that,” I told her. “I look back on it now, and I can’t for the life of me understand why I acted the way I did, why I degraded myself like that. It’s not like I was abused as a child or come from parents who are divorced or was raised by a crack addict. Yet the guys I chose were so dysfunctional that one of them literally drooled on himself and was mute more than half the time.”
She laughed and nodded. Her guy wasn’t on one knee with a ring, but at least he could form complete sentences.
I’m not saying my friends are as bad as I was, but they are stuck in some of the same patterns.
It goes like this: Girl meets guy, and for some reason, guy captures girl’s heart. Guy is not a good guy. Guy does not want relationship with girl. Guy wants to party and have fun with no strings attached. Guy lets girl into his life and then pushes her out again. He does this over and over, sometimes over the course of several years. Girl does not give up on guy. She only tries harder, now believing that over all this time she has cultivated something in him that hints of promise. Nothing changes, but time does not stop for her.
All the while, her friends continue to get married and have babies and move on with their lives. Her biological clock is ticking, but its urgency only makes it harder for her to realize she’s better off alone.
There is nothing I can do to help them, to make them understand how precious the time is or how hopeless their investment. I never listened. I hated the old cliches like “You’ll meet him when you least expect it” or “The love of your life could be around the next corner.”
The worst part of those cliches is they are true. I am living proof. Cut him loose, and you will soar.
The Aspen Princess is thinking about writing self-help books. Email your love to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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