Jamie Kravitz: Guest opinion
Aspen CO Colorado
Most days of the week, I wake up, peer out my windows from my home at Hallam Lake, and walk from room to room, taking in the day through the various vantage points: Snow on the deck? Tracks toward the river? Is there a deer, a bear, a pine marten, a coyote to show the boys? Who is at the bird feeder?
Over very strong coffee, I usually go over the operations schedule of the day with Jim in punctuated bursts, while our two boys run a constant dialogue – to us, at us, and over us. We pack up the boys’ backpacks, go through the gear room to get the necessary parts for the day: boots, hat, mittens, jacket, random item on the floor that must go in a pocket. Usually forgetting the one thing that would have allowed us to get out of the house on time.
And then the good part starts.
We say goodbye to Jim, as we run out the door. He walks 15 feet to work, to ACES. Sometimes we slow down to talk to an ACES naturalist, our best baby-sitters, and some of the smartest kid-loving people in the valley, if not the world. The boys and I head up the ACES driveway, along the Ho Chi Minh trail (which is decidedly nothing like the real Ho Chi Minh trail, but we like the name nonetheless).
We walk through a 200-foot single-track trail, up some cool, old stairs (“only hold the railing with mittens; you don’t want to get a splinter.”), up onto a tiny portion of the Rio Grande Trail, cut through a short cut at the Red Brick, and head into the Yellow Brick Building. Where everyone is a friend.
We give high-fives, we say hello, sometimes I pause on the couch to cool off from hauling all the boys’ stuff up the hill. The boys run into their classrooms at Mare’s Playgroup, finding friends whom they’ve known more or less since they were born. Their parents are made up of old friends from college, friends from our first winters in Aspen, and friends we’ve made along the way. And Miss Mare has taught almost every kid in town for nearly 30 years. The kids are going to be OK.
Waving goodbye, I inevitably chat to a few friends before making my way over to work at the Red Brick, where the Aspen Writers’ Foundation offices lie, and I spend my day surrounded by smart, ambitious, and incredibly well-read women (and occasionally men). For “work” I get to read about, email and call world-renowned authors, impressively accomplished Aspenites, and an entirely brilliant and inspiring crew at the Aspen Institute.
Evenings can mean: a cross-country ski on the Rio Grande trail, starting from our backyard; yoga in a 105-degree room, where outrageously beautiful, fit, and Zen-like women tell you that you are amazing; a swim at what must be the most beautiful outdoor swimming pool in the mountains anywhere at the Aspen Meadows; or a lecture/reading by the most important writers, artists, leaders, and intellectuals of our day – as part of “my job.”
It’s a good life. It’s my Aspen.
I re-read that, and it sounds annoyingly sweet. Obviously life isn’t perfect. Sometimes my kids have meltdowns on that 200-foot trail; sometimes I have the meltdown. I miss friends who live far away. I get frustrated with any number of things all the time. All the time. But, if I’m ever feeling sorry for myself, I can usually snap out of it by remembering the following:
There is nowhere else where Jim could commute for a total of 30 seconds (on a slow day) and I could walk the boys to school and to work in such a pristine, awe-inspiring landscape. The fact that Jim and I can live at ACES, on a 25-acre nature preserve, know and love so many of the teachers in town, and I can work for such an incredible group of people doing important work in both our community and around the world at the Aspen Writers’ Foundation and the Aspen Institute … all in this teensy tiny town in the mountains of Colorado. It’s just unreal.
I came from a great place, in Chico, Calif. I’ve lived in funky, cool Oregon towns. I know about strong communities and good people and all of that. I’ve lived in beautiful places all of my life. But this is where we’ll stay. It’s the only place where we can live like we do and balance having a family, jobs we love, and get to play in such a spectacular outdoor playground. That balance isn’t always easy and it isn’t always pretty. But one thing I’m sure of is that it’s easier in Aspen than anywhere else in the world.
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COVID-19, along with other stressors, has led to an increase in domestic violence, and area nonprofits want anyone who needs help to know it is available.