I guess it’s me who has changed

Allison BerkeleyAspen, CO Colorado

I have good reason to think I might have been brainwashed.Ever since I got back from yoga school, I feel different. Clearly, Aspen hasn’t changed – it’s exactly as I left it, with the same people doing the exact same stuff. It’s sort of comforting to know you can leave for months on end and come back and nothing is different. But, on the other hand, it’s sort of eerie in a Twilight Zone kind of way, like someone hit the pause button and then pressed play when I returned, like no time had passed at all.I guess it’s me who has changed. I’m not sure if these changes are permanent or temporary, but it’s kind of freaking me out. Here are a few examples:• I’m not spending any money.Granted, I don’t have any money to spend, but that never stopped me before. At yoga camp, they crammed this whole new idea into my head about the difference between need and want. We’re not talking the need/want paradigm I’m used to, like wanting to buy another pair designer shoes or trying to decide if I really need that tenth pair of True Religion jeans. It was more basic than that. • We’re talking about water.”Do you really need to drink your water?!” this one teacher would bark at us. “Are you really that thirsty? Or is it a habit, a pattern?”They told us that, even in a room heated to over 110 degrees, the only reason we wanted to drink water was because it was the only thing outside ourselves we could reach to for comfort. Even though we were sweating buckets twice a day, clearly the need to quench our thirst was in our heads. Obviously, these people had never seen those “hydrate or die” CamelBak ads. The only time we were officially invited to drink during the 90-minute series was during “party time,” the official water break after the first few warm-up postures. Every time I heard a teacher say, “It’s party time, go ahead and drink your water,” I’d think about my friends back in Aspen whose definition of “party time” was drinking Jagerbombs at last call screaming “Jagerbommmmmmmb!” at the top of their lungs as if swallowing all that booze and sugar at two o’clock in the morning was actually something to celebrate.• I’m not thinking about boys.The other night, my old friend Sarah took me out to dinner in Carbondale as sort of a welcome home present. We went to Phat Thai, and, of course, all I can talk about is yoga this and yoga that. When her eyes started to glass over, I asked her. “You’ve known me for 20 years. Do you think I’ve been brainwashed? Are you bored of hearing me talk about yoga stuff?”She pulled her hair behind her ear, a little habit she’s always had that lets me know she’s about to say something important. “Let’s put it this way: You’re not talking about boys.”That’s when it occurred to me that I haven’t been thinking about boys, either. That’s a big deal, considering I haven’t stopped thinking about boys once since I was 12. I matured young and was pretty much a hormonally-crazed disaster from eighth-grade on, but that’s another story for another day.The other night, I was hanging out with my guy friends who talk to me like I am a guy and do not skimp on any details when it comes to the perverse stuff that goes on in their fat little heads. So they’re carrying on, and I look at them and I go, “You guys, I haven’t heard a single word you just said. I’m totally blocking you out.””I feel like I’m a virgin or something,” I continued. “You guys can’t talk like that around me anymore.” They shrugged, looked at each other, and walked away. Assured that I was not likely to provide them with any sexual stimulation, their agenda shifted to where they were going to have their next beer.• I wore flat sandals and actually like them.This might seem like a trivial point, but I have never worn shoes that don’t have a little lift on them. My closet is full of platforms – platform sneakers, platform flip flops, platform wedges, mules, pumps and so on and so forth. I guess that’s just because I’m short and always wanted to look taller, want to make my legs look longer. It wasn’t until I finally unpacked my suitcases the other day that I realized I haven’t put on a drop of makeup since I’ve been home, either. And all my padded bras were wadded up at the bottom of my bag all dented out of shape. “You look like you’re still in Hawaii,” Sarah said the other day as we were about to go into City Market to buy food for her barbecue on the Fourth of July. I don’t know why, but I took that as a huge compliment.• I want ice cream more than booze.I’m lucky because I don’t have an addictive personality. Before I left for training I was on a four-month bender that included all kinds of drug use and deviant behavior I’ll save for another column (don’t worry, I promise I won’t run out of juicy material). I quit everything cold turkey, just like that. I didn’t give it a second thought, except to pause for maybe a second to ponder how in the hell I managed to destroy my body like that and actually get away with it (Yesssss!). I didn’t miss any of that stuff. I didn’t even think about it, really. What I do think about is ice cream. The real question is: Do I need it, or do I want it?The Princess will likely return to some version of her former self within a few weeks and thanks you for your patience. E-mail your pure thoughts to