Princess: Birthday boys |

Princess: Birthday boys

So last night we went out on the town for Ryan and Brad’s birthdays, and yes, I’m feeling a little bleary-eyed.

We kicked off the night at L’Hostaria, where Fabrizio and Tiziano have clearly figured out how to run a successful restaurant in Aspen: Take care of the locals, and treat everyone like they’re someone important. Oh yeah, and make the best Italian food this side of the pond. You can throw that gluten-free diet out the window for just one night if it means eating silky, homemade pasta that slithers down your throat and bounces off your pursed lips like a sweet kiss. I’m pretty sure that’s worth suffering through your so-called food allergy for.

Anyhoo, for those of you who don’t know this story, Brad and Ryan have been friends since eighth grade, and their birthdays are one day apart. They grew up in the same town in Minnesota, a little suburb north of Saint Paul where there are lakes in every town and ice-skating rinks in every neighborhood, where people know their neighbors and don’t tend to move away.

I’m always blown away by how much Minnesota people love where they’re from (sorry about the Wild, by the way). We were talking about that last night: how people identify with where we’re from and how it shapes our perception of the world. The boys were saying that they don’t feel like they’re from the Midwest so much as from the North (pronounced “Nord” just because if you’re from Minnesota you have to honor the Vikings). They identify more with “north” than they do with the middle, which makes perfect sense if you think about it. Plus, I do think there is strong identity among people who live in cold places. They always seem to possess a strong sense of character and an even stronger sense of pride. Like, if you can tough it out through a long, cold winter, that’s somehow preferable to just throwing in the towel and moving to a warmer place.

I wish I could take some pride in being from West Simsbury, Connecticut, a nothing suburb outside Hartford, a nothing city. Let me be the first to you, the only noteworthy thing about Hartford is that two major interstates intersect there in a most unfortunate way. We had a decent professional hockey team for a while, the Whalers, but they left, and that was it; we never had a professional team of any kind after that, so you had to choose between New York and Boston teams, and what’s the fun in that?

I knew when I was 8 years old that I wanted to live in Aspen, and I pretty much fashioned the rest of my life around that goal, so here I am.

Speaking of Aspen, we were out on the town trying to whoop it up for the boys’ birthdays, and let me tell you that was no easy task on a Tuesday night in offseason, so thank you to the increasingly small handful of businesses that are willing to stay open.

The great thing about Aspen is that you can leave and come back whenever you want to find things exactly the way they were when you left. Nowhere is that more true than at the Belly Up, one of only two clubs that remained open. Picture this: a Tuesday night in offseason, and the place is packed with a gaggle of locals who can’t break out of their party-every-night cycle, even when there’s nothing to do. So this random band plays, and the room is filled with beating hearts, and that’s enough. I stood on the balcony and watched in awe as a selection of archetypal locals did their thing on the dance floor. It was like watching myself 10 years ago, only these kids were probably even 10 years younger than that.

There was the girl gazing up at her boyfriend who stood motionless as a statue as she sort of danced around him, sliding her hands all over his torso to try to engage him in some kind of intimacy or interaction that he was obviously too blotto to be having. Been there.

Then there was the couple entwined in an embrace with their faces in each other’s necks; you know the kind when you smash your whole body against someone you’re about to have a drunk one-night stand with, just to see what it feels like, sort of like trying on a pair of shoes at Nordstrom. But you can’t actually look the person in the eye, partly because you’re so sauced that your lids are heavy but also because you’re sort of embarrassed about this thing that hasn’t even happened yet but you’re going to do anyway. I remember that.

Then there was the skinny girl in the tank top who danced by herself in the front row, lost in some sort of reverie that skinny girls in tank tops always seem to be lost in, like, “Yeah, I was born this way. I don’t even have to diet, and I know I look good, so just watch me.” I so hate girls like that.

There was the girl in the skin-tight pants with long vertical stripes who always found a reason to walk by us, like, 20 times just to make sure the one guy who wasn’t paying attention sees her this time.

So nothing has really changed except the fact that I can’t recover from drinking the way I used to. And plus, I have a really hot husband I get to go home with even though I’m so bloated from dinner that my skinny jeans are cutting into my love handles and leaving red marks that make me feel anything but skinny.

So I guess we all grow up, but Aspen really doesn’t. Now that’s a town I’m proud to be from.

The Princess wants to wish Brad a happy birthday today! Email your love to

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