Alison Berkley: The Princess’s Palate
September 10, 2009
My friend Shanti just bought me a plane ticket to fly to L.A. on Saturday. Just like that.
I donat know anyone who can find and book a flight faster than Shanti can, but thatas just how she is. Once she gets an idea in her head, thereas no stopping her. She simply doesnat have the mental parameters most people have like, amaybe itas too last minute,a or ahow am I going to pay for this,a or awhat the hell has Ali done for me lately?a She doesnat think about it. She just does it.
So within the course of a ten-minute conversation, sheas e-mailing me the confirmation for my flight. This doesnat surprise me and it shouldnat. This is a girl who grew up on a commune in some remote mountain valley in British Columbia by a woman who changed her name from Enid to Ariel.
Ariel has been married four times and has maintained close relationships with all of her exes, so Shanti was raised with not one set of parents, but three, including a stepmother who later married another woman. Shanti went to a clothing optional school when she was a child and, long story longer, has been given no real guidance in terms of setting boundaries.
I know Iave told this story before, but it really is worth telling again. Shanti and I met in the mid-90s when we were both hired at the same time to work at Transworld Snowboarding magazine in Oceanside, Calif.
It should have been obvious from the start what a misogynistic, male-dominated world we were stepping into when our employer assumed that we would probably want to live together and be roommates even though wead never met, what, with us both being female and all. Can you imagine if they hired two men, giving them phone numbers to exchange so they could be roommates? It was like my freshman year in college all over again.
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Shanti moved from Portland to San Diego with her boyfriend, Greg, and their golden retriever/shepard mix Bear. We wouldnat be roommates until a year or so later when we moved into a big house a few blocks from the beach in a sleepy little coastal town called Cardiff-by-the-Sea.
aYou can share my boyfriend with me if you want,a Shanti said one day when her boyfriend confessed to having a crush on me. aWe can share everything, Alison! Youare my best friend in the whole world!a
aBut Iave only known you for like two weeks,a I mightave replied.
I wonat lie, I did hide under the covers a lot after that and pretend to be asleep, but Shanti would whole heartedly agree with me that Greg was a creep. Eventually shead leave him and move back to Seattle during one of her many, aIam moving to [wherever] to do [whatever]a stints. That time she lost a ton of weight on diet pills and put blonde streaks in her hair and was almost unrecognizable, as if shead made that transformation overnight.
Iave gotten used to her making sudden and drastic changes over the last 15 years. Iave watched her move her life from Seattle back to Huntington Beach to Los Angeles to Sun Valley, Idaho. Iave seen her drive everything from a very masculine, all-black Toyota Tacoma pickup to a silver BMW to her momas dilapidated Volvo sedan before buying her current, more sensible choice, a Subaru Impreza wagon.
This is a girl whose idea of a quick little trip takes her to places like Sri Lanka, South Africa, Thailand, Indonesia and New Zealand. Sheas that girl who barely escaped by the tsunami only to return back with money shead raised to help all the people whose lives were destroyed by it.
Thereas been career changes too as sheas blown through every single media job you can think of with tornado force and speed, including an audition to be the co-host of aStorm Chasersa on The Discovery Channel. Once she was on MTVas aRoad Rulesa in New Zealand. But mostly sheas done everything in and around action sports, from television production and magazine writing and editing to everything and anything revolving around the Web.
Sheas one of those people whoas onto new technology way before youave gotten comfortable with it. I remember when we lived together in the mid-90s and Iad hear that high-pitched pinging of the dial-up Internet connection going on 24 hours a day and I thought she was insane.
aJesus Christ, what is it with you and this e-mail crap?a Iad say. aWhy donat you just pick up the phone and call the person like everyone else?a
So you can imagine where sheas at these days, communicating with a million people in a thousand ways, doing all this virus marketing or whatever they call it, tweeting and twatting and scoring over 1,000 friends on that Facebook thing. Sheas built her own company around it, working tirelessly because that is what she loves to do. I once told her she should find some way to chain her laptop around her neck so she never had to be away from it. And then they invented the iPhone.
Iall admit I have gone through serious phases of being extremely resistant to Shantias enthusiasm, her uncontainable energy, her drive, and her uncanny ability to get up very early even after going to bed very late. There have been times when Iave rolled my eyes at her or even plopped my butt down into the sand and refused to move or to listen to her go on and on about this or that (the sand incident was actually during the rehearsal for her beach wedding in Malibu, where I was as it turned out, the Maid of Horror).
But not this time. This time sheas onto something big and Iam super excited to be a part of it.