I recently left the bubble of Aspen, again. The longer one lives here the more frequent these trips must be. It’s healthy to get out and broaden one’s horizons since the bubble has a way of locking you in.
Research tells me that people who visit Aspen in the summer are likely to be white, upper-middle class and from Texas, California or New York. Surprise, surprise. Therefore, it was high time to branch out and see what the rest of the country was up to, particularly the Outer Banks of North Carolina.
Everyone thought we were crazy when we said we’d be traveling via car. With flights in and out of Aspen going up in price we decided on a 33-hour cross-country road trip. One hour for each year of my existence. Doesn’t it sound awesome!?
It wasn’t the worst thing in the world, nor was it the best. That many hours in a car are taxing on the body. However, you get to check in on other parts of the country and see what’s what. For instance, recycling is second nature to people in Aspen, but not to everyone else. Fitness is unfortunately not the norm in the U.S. and America unfortunately does run on Dunkin’.
Billboards also taught me quite a bit, like the fact that Jesus saves, abortion kills and our president is a “wannabe Marxist dictator.” Wow, with the city of Aspen’s strict signage codes we’ve really been missing out.
You get to see what helped you decide to stay in Aspen in the first place, or perhaps experience some dosage of normalcy that makes you want to run away from it like you’re engulfed in flames.
We saw early on that ours was a cross-country road trip full of cross-contamination. This is one thing our fine nation could use a little more of, frankly. We were contaminated by the ways and habits of others, i.e. eating Dunkin’ Donuts at each stop, and, likewise the Aspen way has contaminated parts of our fine country, thanks to my husband and I.
The water bottle refill started it all.
There we were in Rocky Mount, N.C. at KFC. I know, the joke really begins there, but it was a road trip and we thought nostalgically of the colonel and his chicken. My husband, Frank, brought his bottle in and started filling it with water at the soft drink dispenser, as we had been doing for the past six states. Suddenly, the woman from behind the counter yelled, “You can’t do that!”
Shocked and a little terrified Frank says, “Why not?”
Wait, which part? Two people from Aspen in a KFC? Ah yes, the water bottle.
It was as if Frank brought in a head of lettuce and started rubbing it all over their chicken. It was just a water bottle though and we were actually making a purchase, so Frank honestly replied, “I was just trying to be green.”
Not on her watch. She remembered the training video and placed a cup on the counter. We sheepishly waited 10 agonizing minutes for our order. I guess carrying water bottles with you to and fro is not the norm in Rocky Mount.
I had no intention of violating the health code or disrespecting the Rocky Mount KFC and its practices, but apparently this was new to them, just as their rules were new to us. Is my point that Aspen is the center of the universe? No, not at all. Though it does give us a small pat on the back for being green.
Contaminated water bottles in hand, we carried on with — wait for it — reusable bags, fit living and a healthy dose of superiority complex. “You don’t carry almond milk? Or have an extensive organic section?”
We also found out that at 35 and 33 we were old, childless and strangely fit. “You guys really like to get out and do stuff,” one person told us. Yes, and this might be the problem in seeking a life anywhere else. Doing stuff is really important to living in these parts.
We knew we were home once the humidity broke and we started ascending into the mountains. From there it would only be hours until we would see roof racks and yoga pants galore. I can only run on Dunkin for so long before all that air conditioning and Styrofoam has me twitching
The only way to get ahead and progress is to learn how to cross-contaminate with the best of them. Aspen will only go so far living inside of itself and thinking its ways are the way. And by the same token, our disposable society could use a little help with its practices. Either way, it was refreshing to be part of some good old-fashioned cross-contamination.
Beth is staying put for a while. Share your thoughts at firstname.lastname@example.org