Last night was the first time I felt I made the most of this nonsense. We arrived five or six in the evening at the Inn at Aspen.
The weather was getting bad in New York so we were stuck here for the night. The night before was Christmas Day and spent with the Irish in the city. We had a lovely dinner in Battery Park and then went for a few drinks in Bethpage. A long night at the end of it I had a few hours of sleep before being called to go to Aspen and for no good reason, I was exhausted. I could have watched television and sunk into the bed.
We weren’t needed until noon the next day so instead of soaking up too much television, I changed clothes and pushed myself down to the lobby. Downtown Aspen was only a couple miles down the road so I took advantage of the hotel shuttle and headed in. The front desk suggested a pub called Fins when I asked where I could get good cheap eats.
Having no knowledge of Aspen I didn’t realize it can be a stuffy town with more fake tan and facelifts if you go to the wrong place.
It was cold. The van dropped me off and pointed me to the pub which I wound up running to because it was cold and again, I had not packed other shoes.
The pub was bustling, but I was able to squeeze into a corner spot at the bar. I ordered the veggie melt and a Guinness that knocked me back. The combination of high altitude and lack of sleep, she can do that sometimes. The melt was delicious, as was the mac and cheese I heard my neighbors boasting about.
Sitting at the pub Nick introduced himself, a snowboard instructor at Buttermilk mountain and his friends Seth and Ag, also snowboard instructors or at least for the season. Seth is a computer engineer and Nick used to be something else, but they both found that being happy was more satisfying than being rich. We were joined by Mike and Krista, a couple, and Marie and another couple. Others came and went. At one point I was sitting in the booth we were at, bookended by strangers I’d just met, drinking and chatting like we did this all the time and I am socially apt.
I kept trying to pin point what was going on. I tend to overthink these situations, feeling impressed with myself for nothing, congratulate myself for integrating, but I wasn’t doing anything. I was calmly enjoying the ease of all of it. Mike was sitting to the right of me in the booth and we started talking. He was friendly, genuine nice guy with a very silly and adventurous and outgoing girlfriend. I liked them a lot. Nick got hammered and switched shirts with a girl at the bar and then she bolted, leaving him in a tiny black turtle tank. Seth, being a damn good friend, offered to wear the tiny girl top and switched with Nick. And Seth actually worked it well enough to get hit on a few times. They were all so relaxed. Laid back, happy, fun group of people. Everyone was my age. I’m so used to going out and meeting people about two years younger than I, but to be talking to other 28 year olds I felt a silly sense of relief. Nick was a bar butterfly talking to various groups at the bar, hitting on ladies and striking out with one, but Krista was a self proclaimed stellar wing woman went to undo the damage and have them join us. She failed, but I liked her style. We downed a failure shot before we moved to the next string of bars. I made them look at my shoes before we left making sure I would be let in with my stupid attire. They laughed and assured me no one's gives a shit.
These were all locals, home for the holidays and we were going to a less fancy, more local part of the promenade. They referred to it as Su Casa’s at Erics. It is three bars connected, Su Casa, which is more of a loungy restaurant, Erics which was a big bar and then a billiards bar. Chatting mostly with Seth and Marie at this point. Chatted Seth about the nine to five. Rich people. Being happy. Trying to be a good citizen, but maintaining your own happiness that is sometimes outside that conventional path without feeling guilty about it. Krista had run off to another bar and Mike had to run off after her laughing at her ridiculousness. That is love. At this point it was probably midnight. My phone had died around 11. I had missed the hotel shuttle at 10 and then the bus at midnight, but luckily Marie lived closed to my Inn and offered to drive me home. Seth was going to sleep in his car, despite it having snowed a few inches while we were out. It was 2AM when I got home and 6AM (not noon, as previously planned) when I got a wake up call to be ready in an hour. We’re going to Michigan.
Aspen is a cool town. Small, but a lot going on and a lot of good people.