Amy Roberts: Our current reality, not the new normal
As a writer, I spend a lot of time carefully choosing my words. Whether I’m composing an email, sending a text, posting to social media or drafting this column. The words I choose matter. I know they have the power to generate emotion. Sometimes they result in rage, or inspiration, laughter or action — even if it is only an eye roll.
But just as important as the words I choose are the words and phrases I don’t choose because they lack significance and impact. Of course, it’s always easier to avoid purposefully typing them than accidentally saying them, so sometimes they slip out in a real-time conversation even though I would never lend them any ink.
The word “awesome” for example. Not since the Zimbabwean dollar has something lost its value so rapidly. By definition, “awesome” means to induce awe. To have an inspiring and overwhelming feeling of reverence, admiration, apprehension or fear. It’s meant to describe one of the wonders of the world or the power of the atomic bomb. Instead, we use it to describe a pair of socks we just purchased.
“Curated” is another word I’d like to nix, though doing so would cut the vocabulary of your average hipster in half. Not everything can or should be “carefully curated,” that’s sort of like saying something has been individually personalized. The term “human capital” is also a pointless buzzword. To me, it sounds like a phrase that was coined when someone from human resources started sleeping with the CFO.
But perhaps the most currently overused cliché is “the new normal,” which typically indicates an event that is out of the ordinary and has a long-lasting impact on the day-to-day routine of those affected — a death in the family, divorce, an incompetent fool running a country. To use it in a sentence: I never thought the statement, “I wouldn’t touch him with a six-foot pole” would be a national health policy, but it’s the new normal.
Since March, seeing, hearing and reading the phrase “the new normal” has become, well, the new normal. It’s used everywhere to describe life amid a pandemic. Social distancing, wearing masks, temperature checks when entering a business, remote working, homeschooling — they’re all “the new normal.” As annoying and excessive as the expression is, there is some comfort in knowing it’s not permanent. I think we’d be better off calling it our “current reality” or “unusual routine.” Those words remind us that while these adaptations might be long-lasting, they are not forever. At least as they relate to COVID-19. But when it comes to the popularity and general busyness of Park City, I’m worried the new normal might be permanent.
The one where there really is no off season, no respite from the crowds, no finding yourself somewhere surrounded by locals. We used to have April through November. Then July and August were claimed by crowds. Shortly afterwards June and September were too. This year, it doesn’t feel like October is even that much slower. Nobody seems to have left.
My friends who are Realtors say they’ve never been so busy, or seen so many bidding wars within minutes of property being listed. They attribute it to the pandemic and people being able to work remotely now. If you can work from anyplace, Park City is a lot more appealing than Iowa. That’s also why a number of people who were traditionally second home owners are, at least for now, clocking in from the 84060. Why go back to the 700-square-foot apartment in a congested city under smoke-filled skies when you have a place in the mountains? What little property isn’t being occupied by owners is getting top dollar from those who desperately need a change in scenery, even if it’s just for a few weeks. There is next to nothing on the rental market.
It all adds up to a whole bunch of people residing in Park City with no confirmed departure plans. It might be new, but it certainly isn’t normal.
Amy Roberts is a freelance writer, longtime Park City resident and the proud owner of two rescued Dalmatians, Stanley and Willis. Follow her on Twitter @amycroberts.
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It’s fitting in this fact-free world, writes columnist Tom Clyde, for Wasatch County officials to host a “grand opening” for a road that isn’t open yet.