Princess: Can’t let go of that Aspen magic |

Princess: Can’t let go of that Aspen magic

Alison Berkley Margo

The other day, I met my friend Kate at the Sky pool in the middle of the day and found myself witnessing the scene rather than feeling like I was part of it.

I was dressed in a sundress I bought from Target that has already expired its one-season-and-done shelf life, off-trend and made from cheap cotton that’s already pilled up. While I am perfectly comfy strutting my stuff in a bikini with the moms at the Basalt pool or paddleboarding with my friends’ kids at Chapman Dam, I don’t see myself showing that much skin poolside at the Sky anytime soon. That’s mostly because of these girls, who are strewn about on the outdoor lounge furniture like some kind of exotic lizards, all long and taut and curled around cushions, sunning themselves and drinking in the middle of the day between whatever crap jobs they do to pay the rent. I just can’t compete with that.

It was like going back to visit your old college town. It looks the same, but it’s entirely different, filled with startlingly young, taut, unblemished youth that look like they just came out of the wrapper, an entirely different species.

I remember when my life was like that, when I would teach a yoga class and then take a yoga class and then spend the rest of the day replacing whatever toxins I’d worked so hard to sweat out by drinking beer in the sun all day. When my life’s goals revolved around whatever boy I was obsessed with or future trip I had planned or upcoming event I wanted to look hot for.

Aspen was at my fingertips then. I didn’t care about local politics or new developments or how rich people were or what they were doing. If anything, I loved the unpretentiousness of it all and relished the luxuries I had access to that the rich people paid for. That was the premise for the whole Princess thing, this sense of entitlement, of living a decadent lifestyle and parading around town like I was someone important, regardless of whether I was living in a tiny one-bedroom condo above a motorcycle shop in an industrial park and earning less than $50,000 a year. It didn’t bother me to be surrounded by people with money because I felt like I had everything they did, only I didn’t have to actually pay for it.

That all changed when I moved downvalley.

There is a shift in perspective that occurs that’s not only undeniable but seemingly inevitable. I’ve tried everything to fix it, from a simple attitude adjustment to renting a small office space in town as a home base, as a way to stay connected, that I hardly ever use. I tried biking from my house to downtown Aspen and to the Maroon Bells just to remind myself that I’m not that far away. I’m still within biking distance, even if it pretty much takes me all day to go there and back.

The problem is that now I see Aspen in a totally different light. I don’t know if it’s because I’m more settled, more of an adult, with a house of my own and bills and responsibilities that put into perspective just what it is that money can and can’t buy.

I don’t know if it’s because I’m not there all day, every day, living in a bubble and moving in my own little circles, that I didn’t notice it all before. But now, when I go up there, I’m like, “Who the hell are these people?”

The money bothers me more than it used to. Maybe I’m more aware of it now, or maybe the wealth is so astronomical and so out of control that even traditionally wealthy people are a little taken aback by how “the other half lives” now that it’s been reduced to the 1 percent.

But I can’t shake this feeling that Aspen is like fashion: One day you’re in, and the next you’re out. That once you slide down that hill, so to speak, and into a downvalley existence, the magic is somehow gone.

In the midst of all the Aspen Art Museum drama, I woke up in the middle of the night and couldn’t fall asleep. I lay awake, perusing Facebook on my phone and seeing all the photos Dan Bayer and Torre and All The Way May posted from the 24-hour opening party. Even though I’ve been somewhat outspoken with my criticisms and concerns about the project, I felt totally left out. Not only that, but I worried that I’ve somehow become jaded and that, because of my negativity, I was missing out on experiencing all that Aspen has to offer, fighting the change instead of celebrating it.

The photos reminded me of the 24 Hours of Aspen, an all-night ski race that used to take place on Aspen Mountain. I remember in one of my first seasons here, being in the media tent on top of the mountain at 2 a.m., eating sushi and drinking top-shelf sake and thinking it was one of the coolest experiences I’d ever had in my life.

Lying awake in bed, I worried that I’d missed out on a little piece of Aspen history and, worse, that my attitude kind of sucks.

When I whined to Ryan about it the next morning, he just held me in his arms and rocked me back and forth and said, “Don’t worry, honey. The only things that matter are drinking beer and watching the deer at the Margo A-Frame.” He is very Zen like that. The guy could be happy anywhere because he’s happy within himself and the rest is just circumstance. It’s quite amazing, actually.

I guess I may have gone from Aspen Princess to Desperate Housewife of Basalt, but something tells me I’m not ready to hang up my crown quite yet.

The Princess is going to check out the art museum tonight. Email your love to