Alison Berkley Margo: The Princess’s Palate |

Alison Berkley Margo: The Princess’s Palate

Don’t ask me why we’re driving east during the biggest snowstorm of the year. Oh, yes. We have decided to drive to Minnesota for the holidays. I know what you’re going to say.

“How far is that?”

Then I go, “It’s about 18 hours.”

Then you say, “Holy sheet, that’s far!”

What you don’t say is, “What the hell are you thinking?”

I’ll tell you what I’m thinking. I’m sitting in a Starbucks in Denver, elbow to elbow with the dozen or so people who also have their laptops out, taking calls on their cellphones and conducting business as if this is, indeed, their office. They didn’t make first gondie this morning, and they’re not going to be able to take a few runs at lunch.

I guess this is what it’s like in the real world.

While all you spoiled little brats are having your big pow day, I’m drinking a double-tall soy latte waiting for my mechanic Steve at Salta Motorsports to fix my Audi, which, let me tell you, has more issues than I do. If ever there were a more expensive, more high-maintenance car in the world, I would find it. Don’t ask me what I was thinking when I bought an Audi with 75,000 miles on it. The shelf life on these cars is precisely that. That’s why rich people buy them. You either need thousands of dollars to keep them running or have to have thousands and thousands of dollars to buy a new one because the repairs are so expensive you might as well just start over.

Last time we drove to Minnesota for Christmas, we said we were never going to do it again. Ryan got a fat speeding ticket right outside Denver, so right off the bat it ended up costing more than flying.

We’d driven straight through the night. I slept in the back with George, who is so big and so long and so tall that it was like sleeping with a human. He didn’t curl up at my feet like other dogs. His head was next to my head, and his feet were by my feet, and he kept nudging me all night with his bony German shepherd spine as if to say, “Hey, this is my bed! Get the hell out!”

Ryan champed it. He drove all night long. We stumbled in the front door at 10 in the morning and passed out like two drunken sailors, and it took us, like, three days to recover. The fatigue lingered in our heads like the low clouds that shroud the Twin Cities for most of the winter, gray and cold and wet. You know, the low-grade headache and puffy eyes with dark circles that can’t be hidden no matter what kind of concealer you use.

We pulled the same routine on the way home, with Ryan driving through the night and George and me wrangling for space in the back. When we finally got home around 11 o’clock in the morning, Ryan crashed facedown into the bed still dressed in all his clothes, spread-eagle, without even bothering to take off his shoes.

When he woke up sometime before dinner, the first thing he said was, “We are never doing that again.”

It’s amazing how soon we forget.

It wasn’t even snowing that year. It was dry in Aspen with a thin base. We were happy to escape the Christmas crowds, happy not to be stuck in airports, happy to have time with family. After all, that’s the whole point, right?

Don’t get me wrong. I love Minnesota. I love its people and its wholesome quality and down-to-earth vibe. I love uptown Minneapolis, walking around the lakes and shopping and eating and enjoying all the city has to offer, the Apple Store and the older, multistory department stores. I love my in-laws, thank God, and I love spending time with our niece MacKenzie, who, truth be told, is our main reason for driving all that way. She’s 9, and we can’t miss a minute of that. She’s the coolest chick I know and also happens to be more intelligent than half the people my age. I often wonder if what I’m talking about is over her head, only to have her respond with some pearl of brilliance and wisdom.

The last time we hung out, her mom called me and said, “My daughter spends one week in Aspen, and now all she can talk about are Audis and Porsches.”

At first, I’m confused. Then I have this flashback of us in the car and me going, “Audis are the best snow cars. See the rings on the steering wheel? That’s how you can tell an Audi. It’s like the Olympics.”

It’s like the Special Olympics, maybe.

Then I recalled a moment when, on pulling up at Saxy’s (my favorite hangout in all of Basalt), I saw a black Porsche and said, “I want to get a Porsche someday. You never see women driving them. I want to be the woman who surprises everyone by getting out of a black Porsche.”

I figure by the time we finally get to Minnesota I’ll forget about all the pow I’m missing. While you’re getting face shots, I’ll be snow tubing at Buck Hill, a ski resort in a suburb of Minneapolis that has a vertical drop of “almost 310 feet,” according to Wikipedia.

I’ll be at the Mall of America, eating at the American Doll store. I’ll be at Nordstrom Rack, buying all inventory from five seasons ago, thinking I’m getting a great deal. I’ll be at Matt’s Bar and Grill, eating a Juicy Lucy and regretting when the grease-laden inside-out cheeseburger sits in my stomach like a brick for the next two days.

I’ll also be with the best family in the world – now there’s something to celebrate.

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