Alison Berkley Margo: The Princess’s Palate

The Aspen Times
Aspen CO Colorado

So I’m going to Glenwood today to take an all-day QuickBooks class at Colorado Mountain College.

If you would have told me 10 years ago that I’d be willing to sit in a classroom from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m., learning to use accounting software, I would have laughed and said something sarcastic like, “I’d rather stick needles in my eyes or eat lint.”

That much is true.

My life seems to be changing at such an alarming rate that there’s really no time to be disoriented. “Don’t even try to swim,” I tell myself, remembering the terror of my surfing days. “Resist the urge to fight, to breathe, to surface. Remember that to surrender is the difference between swimming and drowning.”

OK, maybe that’s a little melodramatic. It’s not like change is bad – it’s just that everything seems to be happening all at once.

The other day, Ambere and I took the dogs for a walk and decided to get an iced-coffee drink at Whole Foods afterward. We sat outside on the sun-soaked patio sipping our blended espressos and peeling off layers, marveling at how warm it was.

“It’s got to be at least 60 degrees out,” I said, closing my eyes and tilting my face up toward the sun.

I knew I was being bad, dragging out what should have been an hour break and turning it into a leisurely afternoon. I could just picture it, my laptop sitting at home on the dining-room table, random photos fading in and out as it sits in screen-saver mode, growing dangerously hot. I quickly banished the thought, enjoying instead the genius way in which Whole Foods is situated so that even the parking lot looks kind of pretty, the strip mall that is City Market plaza comfortably hidden behind you.

This only after I spent a good half-hour in the middle of the day to grocery shop. First I’ll browse the butcher’s section, trying to decide if I want Moroccan lamb skewers or maybe sizzling salmon for dinner. Then I might talk to the stock boy who has dreadlocks and uneven facial hair about how good the Califia almond milk is.

“It’s so creamy, I can’t even believe it,” I say. “Obviously, I’m not the only who thinks so!” He nods and smiles and pretends to actually care.

My favorite thing is to stalk the soup bar and try to be subtle as I “sample” each soup even though I’ve eaten them all before. Or I might swing by the bulk-foods section just to make sure those peanut-butter-filled pretzels are as amazing as the last time I tasted them.

I do this realizing that days like these are numbered.

Leaving Aspen was just the first step. You don’t realize how surreal life in Aspen is until you move 30 minutes down the road and then turn around and look back at where you came from.

Like just the other day I ran into my buddy Brian at the base of Ajax, and he goes, “So you’ve been hiking the bowl a lot?”

He only knows this because I post photos on Facebook. Week after week it’s the same thing: Me on top of Highland Bowl with the same people in the same spot doing the same pose. I don’t know why we feel compelled to take a photo every single time, but we do. It’s kind of silly when you think about it. It would be like taking a photo of what you ate for breakfast or of your dog or of yourself with your husband, posing together. I mean, talk about redundant.

“Yeah, totally,” I said, trying not to act too excited about being in town. “You know, it’s funny. Now that I’ve moved to Basalt, I love snowboarding more than ever.”

“Yeah, that long drive must really make you appreciate it,” Brian said, the smirk on his face broadening. Brian can see right through me and has a knack at pointing out the obvious in such a startling way that it always makes me catch my breath a little.

If I thought I was hanging on to my old Aspen lifestyle by a thread, last weekend made me realize that it’s getting thinner and thinner.

On Saturday afternoon, Ryan and I joined a group of our friends for a 40th-birthday celebration up at Highlands. We’re thinking we’re so cool, dancing outside on the patio with the crew and the live band in sleet and snow, throwing back tequila shots and beers long after the lifts stopped running and the patrollers did the final sweep, until the sun sank low enough behind the mountain that the temperature dropped by at least 15 degrees.

We can still apres, yo. We can still hang.

We were pretty proud of ourselves. Hello – we stayed at the mountain until after 6 p.m. After that, we were content to hang at home watching “Chopped” on Food Network until our eyes bled.

Still, the party went on without us. It went on, and on, and on.

That people our age can still go from boozy lunch to apres to cocktails to dinner to the dance club and then wake up and have bloodies for breakfast and green beers for St. Patrick’s Day lunch blows my mind.

But what really blows my mind is that I’m sitting here in the lobby at CMC in Glenwood during an hour break from an accounting class; that we’re thinking about buying a small business; that we’re trying to have kids; that a year from now, a leisurely stroll through Whole Foods or a shot of tequila after hiking the bowl will be a distant memory.

The Aspen girl in me hesitates. She asks, “Is this really what I want?”

I honestly don’t know if this is a course in QuickBooks or quicksand, but something tells me I’m about to find out.

The Princess is having a midlife crisis. Email your love to


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