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Be careful what you wish for

Alison Berkley

A few years ago, when I was living in California, I had just returned from a monthlong surf trip to Costa Rica when I was greeted by my roommate Lisa with some unusual news.”So, what did I miss?” I said, dragging my bags into the front foyer, happy to see that stretch of gentler, more familiar coast through the big glass doors of our living room. I expected the usual stuff: Ashley dumped so-and-so who turned into a psycho stalker when she started dating his next-door neighbor; the dog almost drowned (again) trying to chase Holli when she paddled out to surf; Chris broke the ironing board when he got drunk and tried to stand on it.Instead, Lisa tore open her sweatshirt and bared a set of big, perky, gravity-defying breasts.”I got boobs!” she screamed, leaving her mouth wide open for added emphasis. “Wait, can I see those again?” I asked, equally shocked and fascinated. They were round and smooth and taut like they had been made on a pottery wheel instead of clumped together by hand. That’s the kind of unpredictable, unexpected, random stuff that went on back in California. No matter how innocent or pure my girlfriends seemed to be, the next thing I knew they’d do something outrageous, as if to make a point of contradicting the very essence of who they were.I’d catch the shy, prudish one macking on another chick at the bar. The I-only-eat-organic-food friend would randomly drop a hit of Ecstasy at a backyard barbecue. I watched the fitness trainer/nutritional analyst projectile vomit after seven Long Island ice teas on a Tuesday night. Or in Lisa’s case, Miss Save The Environment/Vegan Animal Lover didn’t see anything wrong with having a little silicone and saline floating around in her chest like some demented Hippie Barbie doll. I guess there was some kind of power in that, in mocking everything they stood for just because they could get away with it. Boundaries were always being challenged or erased altogether. It was all about having a little fun, about never taking life too seriously.No matter how demented or illegal it got, I coveted the free-spiritedness that California bred in us. I loved being able to discover that side of myself, to shed the fleece jacket and wool clogs and faded jeans of college life in Boulder to run around in bikini tops and low-slung shorts, baring our belly-button rings and lower-back tattoos, showing off our bodies that were brown and toned from surfing every day.Nothing like a little nostalgia to cheer me up as I sit on a plane bound for L.A. during the biggest powder day of the year so I can sit around in the rain with my aforementioned friends and their newborn babies, longing for the past. I mean, how unproductive is that?I know women have babies every day. I know I’m getting all Chick Lit on your ass, but whatever! I’m talking about five of my best friends who all got pregnant at the same time, three with newborns and two who are about to pop. They say its contagious, but I had no idea it could be an epidemic.These are my surfer girls, the girls who epitomized independence and freedom and the wild, carefree lifestyle that living at the beach brings. These are girls who shared a friendship so deep and profound that we used men for sex, so fulfilled by our own emotional connection that we needn’t try to figure them out. It was so much easier not to even bother. Instead of bringing my 4.3 mm wetsuit and my sexiest party outfit, my luggage is filled with designer baby clothes and sheepskin blankets from New Zealand and handmade mobiles and all that dumb baby stuff that they either a) already got six of from other friends or b) will use once and promptly throw away after the baby spits up all over it/grows out of it. I can forget about going to my favorite Thai place for pineapple fried rice or mango sticky rice. I can kiss margaritas at sunset on the patio of Las Olas goodbye and not even think about going dancing at the Martini Ranch with all those hot surfer boys and Jack Johnson look-alikes. Babes are out. Babies are in.Somehow I’m the only one who’s immune to this contagious baby disease (probably would be a good idea to find a boyfriend first). I’ve finally mastered the art of being selfish, of thinking only of myself, of doing what I want when I want, of spending every dime on stuff I really don’t need but really have to have. I couldn’t even imagine missing a powder day (except for today, that is). Sure, I wish I had a family and I wish I could spring some miraculous beautiful genius baby from my loins or whatever that saying is and I know my time is limited but whatever. When I called Lisa to tell her I was coming to California this week, she ranted on and on about how her labor was miserable, about how her 5-week-old baby won’t stop screaming and she hasn’t slept for a week and her breasts had inflated to Double D’s. “I am at the point where I see women with large breasts and I feel sorry for them,” she said.I guess you should be careful what you wish for.Don’t miss the Princess’s debut in The New York Times travel section this Sunday. Send your love to California at alison@berkleymedia.com.


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