Alison Berkley: The Princess’ Palate
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
I’ve decided to spend the offseason archiving all my old columns.
You would think this might have occurred to me earlier, like before eight years had gone by, but no. It’s kind of like cleaning out your sock drawer or organizing the storage closet or filing your tax returns. Somehow the years just keep flying by and still, nothing ever gets done.
Well, that’s all about to change.
I’m thinking maybe it’s time for me to grow up. Somehow I’ve managed to avoid that for the last 20 or 30 years.
This occurred to me when my parents were in Europe traveling around Italy for three weeks and I didn’t hear from them the whole time they were gone. I was just short of burying my face in my pillow and crying, “I want my Mommmmmmmmy” after the first week. I am entirely too dependent on my parents. I realized I still feel like a child simply because I’ve never had to grow up. They’ve always been there for me, always sheltered me and spoiled me and never let me have to overcome much of anything on my own.
I think it’s partly a cultural thing. While my WASP friends have to wait for their family legacy to pay off when someone dies (and still they pretend they are poor and refuse to actually spend the money on anything, but that is another story). Where I come from, your parents very much want to see you enjoy their money while they are still alive. It’s not like I get millions of dollars and can do whatever I please. If that were the case, we’d be driving around in an Audi A6 wagon instead of a 1997 green Oldsmobile Bravada with gold stripes and a right front wheel that makes this horrible sound like it might fall off any second.
But I am spoiled.
There comes a time when it dawns on me that being spoiled isn’t serving me so well anymore. I’ve pretty much milked it for all it’s worth after two decades of traveling and shopping and buying luxury items I can’t afford in the first place, forget about how much I end up spending when it takes me two years to pay my credit card balance down. It’s not so much about the maxed-out cards and the empty checking account and the mounting bills and back taxes. It’s about having security and stability that is long-lasting, that is something I can have without having to ask my parents for help.
It was Ryan’s dad who pointed that one out. I was like, “My goal is to get back to zero.” And he goes, “Shouldn’t the goal to be to get above zero?”
I used to have these excuses like, “So what’s going to happen to me if I get into a little bit of debt? It’s not like I’m going to DIE, for god’s sake.”
After years of being fiscally irresponsible, and irresponsible in general, it finally hit me. If I want to have a baby of my own, I have to stop being such a baby first.
That pretty much brought the woe-is-me fertility battle to a screeching halt, which let me tell you, is a blessing in disguise. There is nothing that puts the kibosh on your romance faster than turning sex into some kind of science project that culminates with a test. I always hated tests so much that I purposely did not study for them. That way, when I got a good grade I was pleasantly surprised and pleased that I didn’t have to waste time that was better served enjoying life.
We didn’t quite get that far into the fertility thing, thank god. We haven’t done anything that’s required injections or laboratories or Ryan having to spew into some cup. So I took a few hormone pills and designated that mid-cycle time as “sex week,” which was kind of fun, but it still sucked when we failed the test. As a licensed underachiever, let me tell you there is nothing worse than failing when you actually tried.
I honestly don’t think the issue here is about ovary function or egg quality or sperm count. I think it’s about maturity and responsibility. They say you are never really ready to have a child, that having a child isn’t something you can ever be prepared for. But like my favorite yoga teacher Marlon always says, “You can’t go from kindergarten to college.”
I have some things to take care of first.
Like, we might have to find a bigger apartment if we want to start a family. Ryan said we could always put the crib in the living room and get rid of the TV, but that wasn’t exactly how I’ve imagined it.
I’ve been reading all about how I imagined it, my future, in eight years of columns. I’ve taken more than 400 columns and organized them into these nice, white three-ring binders. I can’t even begin to tell you how out of character that is for me.
People always ask me, “How can you be so honest in your columns? Isn’t it weird to share all the intimate details of your life with the whole world?”
And I always say, “I never understood why being honest was so unusual. I guess it just comes naturally to me.”
But reading through all those columns, I finally see what they mean. It is awkward, embarrassing, painful and strange. I can’t even begin to explain or understand what the hell was going on in my head.
If I ever do get to the point where I can get my life together and finally grow up, maybe one day I’ll be able to hold my child in my arms and say, in all truth and honesty, “I’ve come a long way, baby.”
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