THE ASPEN TIMES WEEKLY: Why Aspen? Tales from the Freshman Class, Past and Present. By Etta Meyer
For the past nine months, every time I tell a new person that I just moved to Aspen from New York City they respond, without fail, with, “Wow. That’s a big change,” followed immediately by an incredulous, “Why?” On the surface, a banal, small talk question, yet the more times I am asked, the more curious it makes me why anyone chooses Aspen as the specific mountain hamlet for them. Not just why they came, but why they stayed, invested, worked, raised families and gathered here, season after season, generation after generation.
Someone once told me the Ute people had a prophecy about this valley, once you enter it you are destined to return. (Or was that the Ski Co?) Either way it’s a special place we live in, bursting with natural splendor and the fruits of human endeavor in many forms. But there are lots of great American towns and a lot of beautiful mountains in the world.
This November marks the arrival of a new ski season and with it, a new freshman class about to be baptized into the Aspen way. As a way to welcome all newcomers, here are a few tales of freshman past and present, including my own humble yarn.
Age upon arrival?
In 1950 my grandparents (pictured above) shocked their family by ditching New York for a cattle ranch in Montana. They loved Aspen and split their time by spending every winter here until 2003.
I have been in New York since college, grinding away, most recently as a photo editor at a glossy magazine. Around my thirtieth birthday I started to hear that old siren call, “Go West,” as my grandparents and generations of Americans have heard before. I just had to decide where specifically to go.
The West Coast wasn’t right, where my parents live in Wyoming was too remote. Boulder sounded interesting, but perhaps too crunchy? Silicon Valley was courting outposts in Bozeman, but no. I narrowed the search down to “Menver” and Aspen, booked an exploratory trip over the 4th of July, and by the end of the weekend it was game over, victory Aspen.
I planned to leave New York at the end of the year. At a holiday party the night before I left I got a lead on a temporary sublet, a cheap and dirty crash-pad on Hyman. It had clearly only been inhabited by the opposite sex for who knows how long. I slept the rest of the winter on a camp cot with a cardboard box for a nightstand. It was heaven.
In keeping with everyone I’ve interviewed for this feature, I’ve fallen in love with the people, the sky, the mountains, the smell of the air, the pace of life that includes spending time outside. (Please keep in mind I’ve spent the past eleven years more or less inside.)
This summer I enlisted my brother to give up New York as well and be my roommate. We have set up Meyer & Meyer HQ in an apartment on Main Street and are tirelessly developing our businesses and transitioning to the “gig economy.”
As Ms. Cunningham so eloquently put it when recounting her own freshman story, “It’s meant to be—if you’re meant to be here.” Time will tell, but I sure hope I’ve found my forever home.
(For the full story, please click this link.)