The town of Aspen is a mix of upper crust stores, quaint brick public walkways with little miniature brooks running through them, bookstores, restaurants, churches, and firetrucks painted with glossy flowers looking like something from the 1960’s. It is eclectic, and charming. A place I would love to call home someday.
As I waited to buy a ticket for the gondola ride to the top of Aspen Mountain, the woman behind me asked if “I liked the Impressionist Exhibit at the Chicago Art Institute.” I turned around shocked and she pointed to the button that I had indiscriminately pinned to my backpack from the museum. We had a delightful chat about art, the museum and our lives. This is what I adore about traveling and life. You just never know who you will meet around the next corner to explode your world with connection.
As I popped into my gondola there was music playing. Things sure have gotten high-tech and the special red gondola had piped in music, and an iPod dock for you to play your own tunes. I was thrilled with the playlist and appropriately heard Landslide, the song that so epitomizes my days and was one that meant a lot to me in Telluride (see F. Scott Fitzgerald of the Rocky Mountains).
I was ascending the mountain to listen to Red Molly, a country bluegrass trio of women. I relaxed back in an Adirondack chair and became blissfully carefree on top of the world. The views were stunning and unlike Breckenridge, whose mountaintop was an amusement park, this aerie was filled with trails and I wished I had brought my hiking shoes.
After listening and tapping my toes to the upbeat harmonies for a few hours I buzzed back down the mountain to catch the town bus to the Music Tent. I had heard that the youth symphony was playing a concert there and all the locals sit outside the tent on the lawns and listen for free. I missed the appropriate bus so had to catch a different one back to the hotel and take a shuttle from there. So I was late by the time I arrived. It was a lovely setting, but I couldn’t hear the music well enough with the squealing, happy children and talkative adults. I wished I had purchased a ticket to hear it uninterrupted inside. They were phenomenal from what I could tell. I only stayed an hour, then high-tailed it back to the hotel to change for dinner.
I decided to go back to the White House Tavern one last time. SURELY I could pay for my dinner tonight, I thought. They can’t possibly be that crazy generous. I sat down to be greeted by a young lady bartender, Nicki. We hit it off immediately. It wasn’t as busy as the night before so we chatted up a storm. I ordered food and a cucumber martini and she brought out little biscuit ham sandwiches as a starter that I didn’t even order. So not only had they bought my dinners the last TWO nights, now they were bringing me extra food. It was lovely, charming, playful and made me very happy. Nicki was raised in Chicago and actually had a studio apartment a few buildings away from where my daughter Audrey is living. Such a small world. We were both kind of silly amazed about this discovery. By the time I left they had comped my whole dinner again. Three nights in a row. What are the chances? I felt very, very special, no restaurant has EVER made me feel quite like that.
As I was driving back to my hotel, I voice-recorded a few minutes of my charming evening and said, “I want to come back here. I want to live here. If not permanently, for a little while. At the very least fall in love with someone who will bring me here.” I have always loved and longed for the mountains. Maybe I’ll start Aspen Shakespeare Company and bring Shakespeare into the schools, and performances into the parks. I don’t quite know, but I love it and will keep it near the center of my dreams.
May I suggest May I suggest to you May I suggest this is the best part of your life May I suggest This time is blessed for you This time is blessed and shining almost blinding bright Just turn your head And you’ll begin to see The thousand reasons that were just beyond your sight The reasons why Why I suggest to you Why I suggest this is the best part of your life
(Sung by Red Molly)