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Relationships as impossible

“You’re such a beach girl,” my friend, Sarah D., said while we were poolside at 39 Degrees on Ajax closing day. Even though I was not bikini-clad like the go-go dancers who shook their booties in our faces all afternoon long, I guess I must have been in my element.

For a second there, it seemed as though the proverbial sun had come out from behind the clouds, or so I thought.

Springtime in Aspen is just like its men: As soon as things start feeling good and you think can lie back, relax and enjoy it, it’s over.



So when the sun finally came out, I didn’t waste any time. I came up with the bright idea to hike up Smuggler.

I know there are a lot of die-hards out there who make the trek up the town’s outdoor Stairmaster day after day with their stabilizers and their best girlfriends/Labrador retrievers/cell phones/ski poles in tow, but I always thought it was a relatively boring hike. It always seems longer than it is (what, one mile?), especially when I get faked out (every single time) three switchbacks early that I’m almost at the top. On the first one, I always think, “this is the one that always tricks me, but not this time! I know there’s one more to go!” only to round the corner and find out that the summit still is at least 10 minutes away.




Still, it had been awhile, and I’m all about the temperature inversion. I just look at it like a mobile tanning bed, a way to get some fresh air and sun-kissed cheeks at the same time.

As I headed off, it was dry and warm enough for a tank top. I started thinking maybe I should do this more. Hell, I should be riding my mountain bike up this biatch, getting ready for Moab.

Then, I saw it isn’t biking season quite yet.

At the third switchback I turn the corner to find the rest of the trail is one big bog of half melted snow, filled with footprints like an acne-scarred cheek, all dimpled, pock-marked and dirty looking. It was thick and bottomless like sand, making it seem as if I was going two steps back for every one step forward. Still, I forged ahead, stopping only to warn oncoming dog owners to steer clear of psycho paws or to say hello to a friend.

It takes me so long to shuffle up the damn thing that I run all the way down, hobbling both myself and my crazy dog in the process. I don’t remember having shin splints this bad since varsity soccer tryouts.

To add insult to injury (or should I say, injury to injury) I go out for a run again the very next day only to posthole up to my thigh in shorts all the way down the path behind my house to the Rio Grande. The hollow, granular snow is like a coral reef, scratching my raw, frozen skin like a cheese grater. At one point, my foot is trapped in there as if someone was trying to pull me under. For a second I thought I might actually be stuck there until someone came to dig me out, which seemed utterly ridiculous.

“Doesn’t look like you’re dressed appropriately,” said the fisherman who burned passed me in his plastic gaiters, holding his fly rod in the air like a flag he was waving for being a fish murderer. You’d think he’d at least be a little bit interested in the snow shark that had his mouth clamped around my foot.

“Yeah I guess I should have worn my rubber assless chaps, ya fag!” I wanted to scream back.

Day two of sunshine and the entire mid-valley almost burns down, with a wildfire that rivals the type I used to witness living in San Diego during the Santa Ana winds. Hard to fathom how a fire could burn like that, leaping across the highway and raging across the valley floor after the longest, wettest winter this area’s seen in decades. It couldn’t have been more than a week ago that we had our last powder day and bam ” just like that ” it’s hot and dry enough to start a fire?

Which brings me back to my Aspen men analogy.

It seems like most every girl I know in this town is struggling with some impossible relationship. It always amazes me how clear the picture is when it’s not me, how obvious it is that this girl is wasting her time and she should know, duh, that history repeats itself and you can’t change him. I’ll watch her make the same mistakes over and over again as her hopes for a future or anything resembling a normal, settled life burn to the ground like those leafless cottonwoods, the last round of their break-up-to-make-up session only adding more fuel to the fire.

What’s more, everyone always acts all surprised when the weather is sporadic in the months following winter, (spring, or whatever you want to call it). I know it was a long winter, but guess what. This happens every year, so get used to it.

Then again, it is that predictable unpredictability that we all are so addicted to. It’s what makes us hopeful and appreciative of our time in the sun. It’s what makes our heart race when the wind blows and lets us know more trouble is on the way ” maybe even a fire.

It’s the lows that make the highs that much better. A wise man I knew said, “When everything is good in my life, I get very nervous because I know that means something bad is going to happen very soon. That is life ” peaks and valleys.”

As usual, he was right. If there are peaks and valleys anywhere, it’s Aspen.


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