Princess: The Ya-Yas: wise beyond their years

Alison Berkley Margo

So I went to a sleepover party the other night.

I know, I’m too old for sleepover parties, right? I was thinking the same thing, except the ladies who organized it are all in their 60s, a gaggle of ladies we affectionately refer to as the Ya-Yas.

The Ya-Yas are a group of local women who have been friends for more than 30 years. They’ve been ski bums together, partied together, attended one another’s weddings, experienced pregnancy together and raised children together, and now that their kids are grown and living on their own, they’re back to partying together again, though I’m not sure that part was ever left out. The point is they’ve been friends a very long time and remained friends throughout everything life doled out to them. They never strayed from one another. They stayed together, and now they get to enjoy that more than ever.

There is nothing like sitting with a bunch of women in their 60s as they tell stories and pass the joint and pour the drinks and cook good food while knitting and crocheting and occasionally looking up above their reading glasses to give one another a hard time. I want to be just like them when I grow up.

I have the honor of knowing the Ya-Yas through my dear heart Ambere. I could probably write an entire column about my even-keeled, level-headed, most sensible friend, the girl who laughs at everything I say and can stop me from a mid-downward spiral with her rationale and steady wisdom, typically in 10 words or fewer.

So it was Ambere’s birthday, and the sleepover party was in her honor, up in Marble at a tiny A-frame that belongs to one of the Ya-Yas’ brothers. Like any female pagan tribe, the men are superfluous and peripheral, like the adults in Peanuts cartoons.

Anyhoo, Ambere grew up right here in Basalt and lives in the same house she grew up in. Ambere lost her mom when she was young. The Ya-Yas are friends of Ambere’s mom’s and made a promise they would take care of her baby girl, which is pretty special.

Plus, these ladies are cool. They’re way cooler than your average mom.

In case you don’t already know this story, Ambere and I went to Bikram yoga teacher training together. I always tell people, “We lived in a hotel room together for nine weeks, and she still likes me,” and it’s true. I have to hold on to people who know me well and still like me, because I’m kind of hard to tolerate.

Kate and Amanda were also at teacher training, and the four of us are bonded for life after that experience. I won’t get into it, because I can almost hear you rolling your eyeballs and going “Oh my God — you’ve told us this story a thousand times.” Let’s just say there’s nothing like joining a cult to make a connection with people. They’ll forever be my Hot Yoga Chicks and are in a category all their own.

Ambere’s sleepover with the Ya-Yas was the first time the four of us had been together in a long time. Already our lives are taking us in different directions. Amanda moved to L.A. to get her master’s degree. I got married and became a desperate housewife of Basalt. Kate fell in love with this hot surfer/snowboarder/photographer dude, and they bought an RV and named it Eileen and road-trip to the beach whenever they can. Ambere, being the steady Freddy that she is, lives close by and still has time to hang out with me, thank God.

See, these girls are only in their early 30s, and already life is getting in the way a little bit.

Being with the Ya-Yas gave us new resolve. We will not let go. We will make sure we get together more often.

The strange thing for me is I’m 13 years older than the Hot Yoga Chicks and just about 15 years younger than the Ya-Yas (OK, 20). The Hot Yoga Chicks are just starting to sort out the next chapter in their lives. They’re still young enough to dream about their weddings, about having babies, about the people they might fall in love with someday.

Plus, I don’t use the term “hot” lightly. They’re also young and beautiful, all ripped and thin. All three of them have this amazing hair, super thick and shiny and long without having to dye/straighten/blow dry, and they don’t even know what Botox is yet. They’re like goddesses, flowing through life in some ethereal way like you could put your hand right through them, like they’re not exactly real.

The Ya-Yas are surreal, too. Being with them is like watching a movie. Between the banter and the giggles and the outrageous stories that get exaggerated just a little bit every time they’re told, they’re rooted into the earth like beautiful trees, unshakable, established, strong and unmoving.

Even though I feel a deep connection with all of them, I found myself lost somewhere between these two groups of women in a bizarre limbo. I’m not in my 30s anymore, and now that the baby thing is out, my future feels uncertain.

I can’t help but wonder what I will do with the next 30 years. Yeah, I know. I can hike the bowl to my heart’s content and party like a rock star and sleep late and do yoga and travel and spend money on myself and enjoy my amazing husband. But what wisdom will I have to offer? What mark will I leave on this world? What kind of Ya-Ya will I make?

Then it came to me on the drive home when I was in sort of a sleep-deprived haze, no doubt infuriating all the drivers around me as I swerved around and braked unpredictably. Of course! The mark I will leave is the one on the page.

The Princess has the holiday blues. Email your love to


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