Falling in Love on Halloween in Aspen
One of my closest friends, Patty, had just returned from a trip to Moab all animated, convinced that she had found that guy for me, the guy who was going to save me from all the other guys I had been enduring lately.
He’s funny, he’s gorgeous and he’s very cool, and…mellow, she exclaimed. A man huh? For me? I hadn’t ever had anybody say they had found a man for me before. I had done well with finding the bad boys all by myself in whatever neighborhood I happened to live in, and I was a bit done with that scene. At the time, I was dating a guy who looked very good on paper with an undergrad degree from Harvard and a post grad degree from Columbia University (all boys had to do was say they were Columbia and I was taking my clothes off). He lived in Pacific Heights in San Francisco and had invited me to go to Greece, Turkey and Italy with him, first class.
It all sounded good in theory but I was currently taken and quite done with the drama and the emotion of getting my hopes up high with men who ended up dumping me for the next hot and willing trumpet, and so I stored the idea of it away, leaving it to fate. If we met and things took off, great, if not I was contemplating hightailing it out of this town and moving to San Francisco in the summer.
It was common knowledge amongst the youth in town that Aspen was a place where collegiate grads came to party hard and forget about the stresses of life for a while. It was a place where packs of friends would traipse to Eric’s bar in the hopes of hooking up. Why not? We were free. Free from the pressures of school, free from any parents or authoritarian figure, and free to feel alive. This was NOT the place to meet your eternal significant other. And I was getting older, it was time to take this marriage/baby thing seriously.
As things would turn out, my Pacific Heights guy and I called it quits in Turkey, before we ever made our way over to Italy and it was months later that Patty invited me to a Halloween party that this stud of a guy, Wade, would be at. I tried to force down the rush of excitement that raged through my body, for if I got too excited I would most likely botch up a perfectly good opportunity to impress a new man by being too effervescent and scaring him away, my enthusiasm often overwhelmed the shy ones.
Every Halloween my friend Stephanie and I have shared the tradition of spending a greater part of the evening playing dress up, drinking lots of wine and shooting polaroids. This Halloween was no different. A bottle of wine later we walked out wearing wigs and old Euro clothes from my parents – we were to be Yalenka and Nostrovia from Russia and made a pact to stick with our new personalities and accents throughout the evening, and drink Vodka.
We arrived at the party and there was Patty standing in the kitchen next to a guy who fit the bill to her description. Tall, cute and carrying a very large cardboard ox, and an axe, he was Paul Bunyon. Creative came to mind. I could feel his calm demeanor from miles away and I was in no means calm and so I grabbed Stephanie and raced past the kitchen lest I sabotage any remote chance I may have to impress.
Walking up the stairs towards the bathroom to primp up before we hit the streets to join in on the hedonism of Aspen on Halloween promising anonymity, drugs and sex, I felt a presence behind me. I took a quick glance behind me, and there he was hot on my trail. “Nice Ox,” I wittingly blurted out. He smiled a very shy smile and I launched off to some other world. We reached the top of the stairs and I leaned against the wall waiting for the bathroom. Facing him in the narrow hallway I took in what I could without embarrassing myself, his beautiful square shoulders set into a six foot 2 frame, his smile, his smell. “I’m Jillian,” I said looking up at him with his fake beard painted on his face. “I know,” he replied. I could barely stand the energy that emitted between us and ducked under his arm to slip into the bathroom as soon as the door opened. He was gone when I came out.
When it was time to hit the town the party gathered together and emerged en masse into the cool chilly night to walk to town and join in on the festivities, Wade and I shyly avoiding one another. Later, we all gathered together on a street corner to discuss where we were going to go dancing. I sidled close to Wade, “are you coming dancing with us?” I asked demurely, the autumn breeze cooling the fire in my cheeks. “I think Ill pass on the dancing,” he replied, but I urged him on in to the Paragon, a bar where one might regularly find themselves dancing late into the night, in ski boots, animated porn playing on the screen in the background. We walked to the bar together and cozied in when a friend (we miss you Steve Menscher) dressed in his motorcycle leathers, interrupted our intimacy and dragged me to the dance floor. Wade took that as a sign to leave. Desperately, I looked over the leather arm draped around my shoulder to say goodbye, and I watched him fade to black as he walked out into the night sky, swinging his axe.