Sean Beckwith: A good reason to leave Aspen

Aspen seems to know when it’s done with you and vice versa. The winter calls most out for a season or four in between or during a search for a real job. Others come out on the recommendation of a family member, extolling the ease of seasonal work and a continuous vacation lifestyle.

I came out because I was offered an internship at a local magazine. My sister Sarah landed an externship at The Little Nell. My friend Zach was enticed by his aunt Carol and a possibility of expanding his ability in the kitchen.

I thought my time was over here when I moved to Miami for grad school. On an evening during my short and frustrating time back in college — it felt like a rerun of an unsuccessful TV series with the promise of a better but ultimately just as useless payoff — I was talking with friends and family about Aspen.

I remember the conversation with Sarah about an ungodly snowfall, and then she mentioned her new job and a search for a sous chef. I was more interested in the powder but told her I had a friend waiting on a sous chef job while his restaurant got out of construction purgatory. The next communication I made was to Zach, the said sous chef. I gave each of them contact information and patted myself on the back for being kitchen Cupid.

It turns out instead of a Cupid clad in kitchen whites shooting skewers, I should have been in my birthday suit notching heart-tipped arrows. The thing about doing dumb stuff is you better have sound reasoning. It must take an obscene amount of attraction to risk/end relationships, throw public perception off a cliff and alter people’s lives over another person.

I’ve never put anything like that on the line for another person. Vulnerability to me is like the picture of Dorian Gray: if anyone sees it, I’m pretty sure I’ll die.

When I wasn’t talking to either of them — it’s a complicated story that goes beyond a friend dating my sister — I couldn’t see their relationship building.

You see couples who should be happy but falter. I’m not the love guru. I don’t know the secret to finding happiness. (It’s not at the bottom of a pint glass, I’ll tell you that.) What I do know is it’s harder to decipher someone’s unhappiness.

A house with a big yard, a couple of pets, friends and good careers in this valley sounds like it should suffice. No one wants to work for an ideal situation only to discover you’re not the same people you used to be instead of the couple you’re supposed to be.

Originally I was going to write about my week in Maine; some more inebriated travel writing that I love but wasn’t sure how to make it different from every other piece I write. It’s like Martin Scorsese trying to add nuance to a bar fight. “I like it guys, but let’s try it again with a highball glass rather than a beer bottle.” That and I was in a small coastal town where the most colorful language would have been used to describe the foul stench of fishing docks.

Then I thought about the last wedding I went to and how I didn’t write about the bride and groom mostly because I don’t know the groom well. However, I know Zach. We were roommates twice. There are stories Sarah doesn’t and probably shouldn’t know about this assclown.

Then there’s my sister. She’s the reason I was able to move to Aspen the first and second time. If ever there was a sibling to emulate, it would be her — cusses like a sailor, talks s— almost as good as me, works harder than me and is unafraid to take a chance.

Now we could talk about feelings and how happy I am for both of them, but I’m like 400 words over my authentic feelings limit. I wrote that Maine paragraph to stop myself from yakking all over my desk.

The only complaint I had about the wedding was the vows. Kitchen-themed? Really? You’re the milk to my béchamel, the Bolognese to my lasagna, the shot of tequila to my morning of vomit. See why you should’ve had me give your speech over that blubbering fool Pat?

Sarah and Zach now reside in Boulder because they think they’re super-cool. They moved away from Aspen last year to grow their careers and life together. This city was through with them. I only hope that if I ever leave, it will be for as good of a reason as theirs.

Sean Beckwith is a copy editor at The Aspen Times. Reach him at


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