Alison Berkley: The Princess’s Palate |

Alison Berkley: The Princess’s Palate

Alison Berkley
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

I have to admit that for the past few months I’ve been feeling a bit displaced.

My young friends are just so young. I love them dearly but for the most part, they don’t see past their hand in front of their faces. They still want to hang out at the bars and go sledding at midnight. They don’t understand that the highlight of my evening is my 10 o’clock bath, lights out by 11. When they appear at my doorstep late night and the dog is barking like crazy and I’m dressed in one of my mom’s old nightgowns with a bun on top of my head and zit cream on my face, they look at me like I’m the parent who came home earlier than I was supposed to.

I find myself saying things my mom says a lot, like starting sentences with, “I have absolutely no desire …”

My friends who are my age, or at least within a decade of it, all have kids. They’ve either moved away or gone downvalley or are too busy to do much of anything except post photos of their kids on Facebook (don’t get mad, I’m just saying). I can almost hear the hair on the back of their necks bristling and the capillaries in their eyes bursting on the other end of the phone line when they ask me what I’m up to and I say things like, “I’m getting my hair done and then I’m going tanning,” or “I’m going to yoga and then I’m going snowboarding after.”

It seems like someone is always getting pregnant or having a baby or having another baby or renovating their bathroom or moving into a bigger place.

So of course as this seemingly significant age approaches, I can’t help but compare my life to others and wonder where I fit in.

It was a beautiful day on Tuesday, and because I wasn’t hung over and didn’t have to worry about finding a baby-sitter or waiting for my husband to get home from work I decided to cruise over to Highlands.

Let me just say right now I do not understand these people who hike the Bowl three or four times in one day. I don’t get it when people can carry on a conversation as they go gallivanting effortlessly up the ridge as if they can breathe. What I really have a tough time wrapping my mind around is how my friend who is more than two months pregnant is always a pitch ahead of me no matter how hard I push myself.

But it’s the final countdown before our trip to Costa Rica, and there’s nothing like the threat of a bikini to motivate a girl. That combined with the whole aging thing, I’ve been doing lots of yoga and hiking the Bowl as much as I can.

Point is, I’ve been getting after it and that stupid hike just never gets any easier. That’s really annoying when Ryan leaps off the couch in a single bound and has enough energy to clown around, harassing me the whole way up by putting his pole in unwanted places if you know what I mean. And he’s like, always smiling and clowning around and acting like he’s having the best time in the world and meanwhile, I’m dying.

“What do you get so mad for?” he asks when I’m in the middle of having a heart attack at the top of the ridge. I’m breathing so hard it feels like my lungs are going to explode out my back.

“I’m just frustrated, God!” I say.

It’s because he tolerates me at times like this that I’m never gonna let him go.

So it’s Tuesday and I’m thinking I’ve hiked the Bowl enough times that maybe it’ll start getting easier. I’m thinking because I’m alone I can pace myself on the first lap and maybe go for a second. I won’t take the cat, I’ll just hike from the bottom to make it super legit. Except the cat is there as if it’s waiting just for me so I jump on. And by the time I get to the top of the ridge, it’s the same scenario. I’m hurting.

At the summit, I run into my friend Arabella who is hands-down the best female snowboarder I’ve ridden with in Aspen. We’re about the same size, and we both have blonde hair and blue eyes, our little braids sticking out from under our hats. I’m goofy-foot and she’s regular so when we ride together it literally looks like we’re a mirror image of each other. It’s kind of magical.

She’s from the UK and has that lovely accent that makes everything she says sound poetic and poignant.

“I’m on my fourth lap so I’m just going to take it easy,” she says.

I roll my eyes but I’m wearing mirrored goggles so I don’t think she can see. But she can feel it.

“Darling, don’t beat yourself up so much,” she says. “Your snowboarding is so beautiful and you look fabulous.”

By the end of the lift ride up Temerity she had me set straight. My little snowboarding twin is my age, she married a snowboarder, she has her own business, no kids, and she’s all about being up on the mountain as much as humanly possible. She’s like a true surfer girl, only in the mountains. She makes me realize I basically live right on my own personal beach with a view of the ocean, so close that it’s a part of me. It doesn’t matter that I’m childless and single and the driver’s side door on our car won’t shut.

By the time I said good-bye to her I realized a surfer girl on snow is something I’ve always aspired to be – so I better dig deep, find my soul, and keep on climbing.

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