author spotlight: Jill Rothenberg

She solved the Case of the Missing Balsamic Vinegar. She understands your love-hate relationship with The Boulder Bubble. She’s an uber-athlete just like you. But in “Dispatches to My Salad Bar Savior: An Email Friendship,” Jill Rothenberg explains how the thing that you bond over can ironically be just the thing that gets in the way of a friendship…

“I keep thinking that we must have been separated at birth, only to be reunited at the salad bar at the Boulder Whole Foods forty years later. I’ll never forget you looking over at me the day we met last April as we both lined our to-go boxes with lettuce. ‘Could they maybe put some fresh stuff out? It’s not like these salads are cheap.’ And then the whole line of us, mostly young yoga chicks with flat, bare bellies but me and you in our skirts and boots–working girls in a nonworking town–all in search of the missing balsamic vinegar. What a crisis. Finally, you burst out: ‘Wait a second, girls, I’m just going to go grab some off the shelf.’ You were our salad bar savior. It just gets harder to meet like-minded women as you get older and are single, especially in a place like Boulder where everyone is young, rich, or both. We were that way once here–well, we were young, anyway. Sometimes we thirst for something outside the Boulder bubble (like, um, a bit of diversity, and not just in restaurants). Yet we both love it so much because you can’t beat the trails; the running and cycling are fantastic. And as much as we both have a love-hate relationship with this town–we sit in the Boulder Whole Foods bashing Boulder and everyone in it, as we sit transfixed by the setting sun against the Flatirons–we somehow can’t imagine being anywhere else. I know we’ve been trying to get together for a workout or for dinner, but then one of us flakes out. I’m just wondering what that’s about. I’ve been thinking that, as much freedom as we have as single gals, it sometimes makes us inflexible. We become slaves to our workouts or to our schedules, and I hate to say it, but we can be, well, self-centered and narcissistic. This is all fine and good if you’re talking about the focused training you need to do a long-distance race, but not so good if you’re talking about a friendship…”

JILL ROTHENBERG and her e-mail recipient, Melissa Trainer, are both Colorado transplants who fell in love with Boulder in their Grateful Dead days more than twenty years ago, when they were most definitely not the fashionistas who are making waves through town today. Instead, they wore hemp necklaces and clogs from El Loro on Pearl Street and shapeless gauze skirts from the racks outside of Boulder Army Navy. These days, you’ll find them training for long-distance races all over the state–Jill as a trail runner and dirt biker and Melissa as a former professional downhill mountain bike racer and competitive skier. They still hang out at the Boulder Whole Foods and dress up for their nights out at the St. Julien (where patrons actually wear something other than Crocs) or when they venture into the big city of Denver, where Jill lives–across the street from REI, of course. Jill works as a managing editor at the Geological Society of America and an online instructor for Her work has appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle, Urban Moto magazine, and Woman’s Best Friend: Women Writers on the Dogs in Their Lives (Seal Press, 2006).

EDITOR’S NOTE: What Jill fails to mention in her bio is that she not only contributed to Woman’s Best Friend, which was the first anthology I edited, but she came up with the idea. Which means…we all have Ms. Rothenberg to thank for the P.S. book, as without her stellar idea for what I call my “dog book,” there would have been no cat book or no P.S. book either. Clap clap clap clap clap and mwha to Jill!!!

EDITOR’S NOTE, PART TWO: Jill and Melissa actually do not have an e-mail relationship. They have a voicemail relationship. But the C.E.F.H. made us change it. Neener neener to her.

Read the rest of Jill’s letter (or come see her read on November 10 at Denver’s Tattered Cover Colfax location, see Events section for details!), and 35 others, in P.S. What I Didn’t Say: Unsent Letters to Our Female Friends, now available on Amazon and bookstores nationwide!


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