Princess: Contemplating life and how to live it |

Princess: Contemplating life and how to live it

Alison Berkley Margo
Princess’s Palate

I’ve started saying, “Hi, there,” to greet people I don’t know, like, to the pharmacist or the bank teller or the girl at the coffee shop who makes my latte. I don’t know when I started doing this, but it’s not something I would say.

It sounds like something an older lady would say.

I always said people have one true age their whole life. It’s a personality thing. I know 9-year-olds who are like little adults, and I know men in their 40s who still act like teenagers (and I’m sure you know some, too).

People also like to say, “Age is a state of mind,” but that’s something you say when you finally realize that you are, indeed, getting old.

I’ve always been 15. I’m pretty sure that’s when my personality was fused, etched in stone, cemented, forever preserved.

I’ve always been 15. I’m pretty sure that’s when my personality was fused, etched in stone, cemented, forever preserved. I honestly don’t feel any differently now from how I did then. I mean, half my wardrobe is still Roxy. I still wear pink Converse sneakers and platform Rainbow flip-flops. I still write in my diary every night about what I want to be when I grow up.

Every age I turned after 15 was like this big shock.

“Twenty” was a word I said over and over because it just didn’t sound right. “I’m 20,” I kept saying. It sounded foreign to my own ears, as if it were a word spoken in a language I didn’t understand.

Thirty was traumatic. I was living in San Francisco during the dot-com boom, making more money than I ever would make before or since. I was feeling very urban and fancy and sophisticated, so I decided 30 was my coming of age and threw myself a big “Belated Bat Mitzvah” party at a Spanish tapas bar on Market Street. I’d never had a Bat Mitzvah, and of course I had no intention of having one in the religious sense, so it wasn’t a Jewish thing so much as a Jewish-princess thing.

Of course I drank too much and hooked up with my ex and spent the first day of my 30s nursing a hangover with a little guilt and lot of shame on the side. Not only had he slunk out of the room at 6 a.m. to go home to his girlfriend, but he wouldn’t return my calls.

So there I was at 30, acting like I was 15 all over again.

Thirty-five was another humdinger. It’s like an expiration date for us females, the year at which you officially become very, very worried if you are still single and childless. That can become somewhat toxic to your love life when every man you meet becomes the blank canvas onto which you unabashedly project all of your fantasies. You stop listening to your friends who try to help you when things get ugly, who say things like, “But he’s autistic and he has a criminal record,” because it it’s, like, such a buzzkill. This is a time when 15 is an age you hold onto, a state of mind when delusions are the glue that hold your thoughts together, often fueled by excessive drinking, yo-yo dieting and other drugs that help suppress the appetite. In other words, this is the last hurrah of holding onto your youth, even though the very act of doing so is precisely how you are wasting it.

Forty was the start of a new chapter in my life, the one with Ryan in it. It has been, hands-down, my happiest decade so far. I found the love of my life, got engaged, had my dream wedding and bought this amazing little house.

Except for one thing: It’s sort of forced me to grow up.

I always said being immature was my best anti-aging strategy, but at a certain point even I have to face the facts. There is only so much Botox you can get before you realize the price you’ll have to pay, both literally and figuratively, to keep up the charade. There is only so much money you can shell out to the fertility doctor only to validate what you already know — you’re no spring chicken anymore.

What really put this all into perspective was my dad’s accident and those hours that I spent in bone-aching fear that he could die. That day is going to come sooner or later, and I’ll have to face it eventually. It made me realize that because we have no children of our own, we are still our parents’ children, and we still rely on them more than we probably should. If we had our own children to think about, I don’t think that would be the case — at least not to such a degree.

I also started thinking about all those things I dreamed about doing when I grew up and wondering why so many of them haven’t happened yet and thinking maybe they won’t happen at all, like the moment has already passed when I wasn’t looking.

I know Aspen is a place where people believe it’s possible to stay young forever. It’s possible to be in your golden years and still be cruising around Aspen Mountain on closing day in your Hawaiian shirt stoned off your behind with a lei around your neck and a beer in your hand, still using words like “bitchin’” to describe your day on the hill. I know there are plenty of women who can afford to look years younger than their true age, even if their faces start to have this weird melting quality at a certain point, like the Joker or a clown, distorted in an eerie, unattractive way.

I guess it’s sort of hit me, well, like a truck: Life is so precious and fleeting, you have to make the most of it. I guess the question I’m sitting here asking is, “Have I?”

The Princess is still not feeling like herself. Email your love to