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Après-Everything

A letter from the editor of the December 2018 issue of 5280.

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This past spring, journalist Tracy Ross pitched me a story about Colorado’s outdoor culture and the fraught relationships so many adventurous folks seem to have with alcohol. “The first river-trip beers are popped by 10 a.m., every day, like clockwork,” Ross wrote, giving just one illuminating example. I was intrigued, probably because I could relate. I’ve been drinking for nearly a quarter century, and it’s probably an understatement to say I haven’t always had the healthiest relationship with booze. At 19, I was convicted of possessing alcohol as a minor and lost my driver’s license for a year as a result. Even as a young adult in New York City, I spent the occasional evening indulging to excess, which led to painful workdays and hangovers that rendered me exhausted and nonfunctional on weekends. Worse, I didn’t really have a socially acceptable excuse for my overconsumption—besides happy hour that often turned into happy hours. Then, when I moved to Colorado 11 years ago, I found a set of kindred souls who loved to cycle, run, ski, and hike—and who celebrated those pursuits by knocking back a craft brew or four. Suddenly, I had a perfectly respectable reason to imbibe. Or so I thought. In this issue’s “Buzzed,” Ross details the complicated bonds so many of us have with Colorado’s pervasive après culture in a way that forced me to think about how I often link the experience of doing something outdoorsy with enjoying a cold one. Self-reflection of this sort can be revealing and a little painful, but Ross’ candid, incisive, important, and complex look at this under-examined compulsion is well worth your time—especially if you, like me, have ever chalked up your drinking to “après-” anything.

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