Princess: A princess among lions
The other day, Ryan and I were standing in our driveway, saying goodbye. I had both dogs in the car and was about to head up to Steamboat when we saw a lion walk across the driveway.
The lion was super-casual. It sort of turned its head and had this patronizing expression. I got a really good look at it. It was long and lanky, with big, long paws and a tail so long that it sort of dragged on the ground. It was a bit bigger than George, our German shepherd, maybe around 120 pounds. It took its time, clearly unfazed by us, before continuing up the hill and into the meadow in front of our neighbor’s house, where you could barely see it slink gracefully away through the tall grass.
That’s how all the wild animals are around here. They never startle. They just sort of stand there and look at you like, “What the hell are you doing here?” And then they take off as soon as you pull your camera out.
But this wasn’t just any animal. This was a lion. And the fact that it was so casual made it all the eerier. Not to mention that people don’t usually just see lions cruising around, in their yards, out in the open, as if to say, “Just whose territory do you think this is?”
We think maybe the lion is hanging around because our neighbor across the street just got a bunch of baby sheep on his ranch. They sound exactly like human babies and cry all day long. It’s been driving me crazy, like I’m imagining it, this chorus of wailing babies haunting me. I keep asking Ryan, “Are they always going to be like that? Or will they, like, grow out of it?” And he just shrugs.
You’re not in Aspen anymore, baby.
I know — there are lions in Aspen, too. I remember that when I lived at the Aspen Business Center and used to run on the Rio Grande Trail, there were a few instances when George would stop dead in his tracks and forbid me to go any farther. He literally would stand in front of me, his whole body blocking mine. And when I tried to shoo him off, he’d just do it again. I figured he knew something I didn’t, and then I saw the sign that said, “Mountain Lions in the area,” with instructions on what to do if you encounter one — as if you’re going to hold it together when being attacked by a lion enough to remember what the damn sign said.
Still, I imagine that the lions that hang out in Aspen might be different. Like, they might notice there are a lot more people cruising around, people with fur this and leather that and enough money to buy things made from skinned animals. So the lion is probably going, “Please don’t turn me into a Dennis Basso coat!” It’s probably backing away, like, “No problem; I can relocate! I’ll just cruise on over to the Fryingpan, where people obviously don’t care about fashion!”
I’ve only been living down here for a year, and already my perspective on Aspen has changed dramatically. Now that I live among the animals, the people in Aspen seem like wildlife to me. I walk around going, “Who are these strange, beautiful creatures?”
Like, why does every girl with blond hair in a loose ponytail have to wear aviator sunglasses and leggings that show off her gluten-and-dairy-free, starved figure? Don’t get me wrong — I remember when working out was a full-time job, when yoga plus cardio plus Bernadette’s class were what was necessary to fit into most of my one-size-too-small clothes. I remember when I thought of cantaloupe as dessert and skipped breakfast and lunch so I wouldn’t feel guilty about going out for dinner.
I was thinking about that just the other day when I agreed to split a sweet crepe with my friend Mike after already having eaten a savory one. I’d come up to Aspen for a lunch meeting, which was kind of a big deal because I don’t do many of those anymore now that I’m a recluse writer living up in a little red canyon in a town where you can wear flip-flops until you’re 90 and where old hippies who moved to Aspen in the ’60s come to die.
I’d been running late that morning as usual, so I just threw on my white prairie skirt my mother-in-law bought me at Heirlooms with a gray T-shirt and silver T-strap flat sandals I got last year at Boogie’s. At the last second, I grabbed my brown-and-white houndstooth fedora, the one I got on the beach in Cabo San Lucas.
Then it started pouring rain.
During lunch, I found myself veering wildly off course, telling Mike things that he probably had no interest in hearing because they were so off-topic and personal and strange that it made me feel like I’d literally just crawled out of a hole.
By way of explanation, I told him, “I don’t know. I just don’t feel like I fit in here anymore. I feel like I’ve become one of those eccentric writers … ”
And before I could finish, he said, “ … with a pug. Who is wearing a long skirt and a fedora with a Marmot jacket.”
I know he was laughing with me, not at me, but still.
All the women I saw cruising the streets had taken their aviators off because it was raining and all, but they still were wearing leggings with expensive-looking knee-high boots and tailored jackets, their skinny thighs not even coming close to rubbing together as they walked confidently down the street.
I don’t know what to be more afraid of: the fact that I’m becoming one of those weird ladies with a small dog or that there’s a lion living in my backyard.
The Princess is really confused. Send your love to alisonmargo@gmailcom.
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Aspen City Hall reporter Carolyn Sackariason reflects on the same old story, different year, different decade.