Returning to reality, sort of

Alison Berkley

Guess what everybody: I’m back!No, I’m not moving to Steamboat. I don’t know where you got that idea. The whole point was to rent my place to a Band Camper (since they seem too nerdy to be capable of doing any real damage), and get outta Dodge for a few.The Big Sacrifice entailed my going up to my parent’s fat new house where I lived rent-free and was still treated, for all intents and purposes, like I’m about 9 years old.My friend Steve, who I’ve known since high school and lives in Steamboat with his wife and two children said, “I think you living with your parents could be a little unhealthy, Al.” (He is one of two people in my life who has called me “Al.” It just wouldn’t sound right if anyone else said it.)Just when I start to think I might really have a serious case of Peter Pan syndrome going on, I find myself at some party in downtown Steamboat contemplating whether or not I should do a kegstand. The cool part is, we’re all in our mid-30s. I’m sitting there, thinking, “Wow, I’m really mature, compared to these guys!”Which brings me back to my original point about being back in Aspen. Everyone has been asking me a million questions about how the two towns compare, so I’ll tell you.The good things about Steamboat are:There are no parking meters. You can park wherever you want, whenever you want. You don’t have to drive around for an hour only to find a parking space that’s so far away that you can’t get back to your vehicle before the metered time expires. I can honestly say I didn’t get a single parking ticket all summer.There are normal, average-looking people, so I got to feel pretty and thin without really trying.You can go out for dinner and not have a heart attack when the bill comes. There are “cheap” places to eat where you can actually sit down and be waited on and get food that’s not served in tinfoil or Saran Wrap.There are like a million good-looking dudes with muscular legs and the perfect amount of scruff. They’re all rugged-looking mountain types who probably came from preppy, East Coast backgrounds. Guaranteed, nine out of 10 went to boarding school and an expensive private college only to move to Steamboat so they can work in a bike shop for the rest of their lives and grow their own pot. They all drive Subarus or old Toyota 4-runners with bumper stickers that say things like “Free your heel and you’ll free your soul,” and “Surf the Yampa.” (No, I didn’t meet anyone. Yes, I realize that was stupid on my part. No, I don’t regret it. Yes, my plan is to keep my life simple and drama-free, even if it means joining those monks up at that monastery in Snowmass. And I finally told my dad I’m gay so he’ll stop bugging me about why I’m not married yet).There’s no traffic, even when people say there is. Traffic stands still. Seeing more than two cars on Highway 40 going in one direction at once is not traffic.It’s super casual so I never had to think about what to wear and didn’t blow-dry my hair or wear makeup once.The mountain bike trails in Steamboat are like the groomers at Snowmass – they make you feel like a total hero and are so beautiful that it doesn’t matter that they’re sort of flat and not super-challenging.People there don’t hate my dog. Most everyone has a big Lab mix and didn’t freak out and start screaming when he saw us coming. The funny thing is, it had a profound calming effect on Psycho Paws, which makes me wonder: Which came first, the crazy person on the crazy dog?OK, before you get annoyed, I’ll tell you the things I missed about Aspen.I really missed having something to do at night other than drink pints of beer after the weekly women’s safety clinic at the Routt County Firing Range (by the by, guns and women do not equal safety).There is no Bikram Yoga studio and the “hot yoga” class that’s offered once a week is for pussies.There is no Bernadette, and if you don’t know who Bernadette is, you obviously haven’t been living in Aspen for very long. Let’s just say that without her help, I was not sporting my size-26 jeans.There isn’t a single place in Steamboat where you can wear fancy shoes. Plus, I felt like a total idiot carrying my Louis Vuitton purse, even though I love it.Don’t even think about eating sushi in Steamboat unless you think every roll should have cream cheese in it.The closest thing to the Rio Grande Trail is only 6 miles long and runs along the highway.The Roaring Fork River kicks the Yampa River’s ass!My friends in Aspen don’t look at me funny when I tell my favorite stories about all the celebrities I’ve met in Aspen.My friends in Aspen actually like me. I don’t think those mountain chicks in Steamboat were digging me too much because (I just sort of realized this yesterday) I only hung out with each one of them once.The cops in Steamboat are more scary than cool and not a single one of them is cute.There are no big, rocky peaks that make you stop dead in your tracks just so you can let out a big sigh. There are no Maroon Bells or Pyramid Peaks that make you stop and reconsider that slip you made about being an atheist during cocktail hour.Last but not least, being called “Princess” isn’t an insult in Aspen.The Princess kindly requests that you be nice to Psycho Paws the next time you see him because chows are people, too. E-mail the happy couple at