Teri Orr: A snowy reflection
Sunday in the Park
September 26, 2017
It was just this time of year I came to visit in '78. I had packed up my Subaru wagon in Tahoe and headed out on the first real road trip of my life. I was 28, recently divorced with two kids under eight and a business of my own. I needed a break from it all. A friend suggested instead of going to San Francisco- as I always did- I instead have a real adventure. So I did.
I drove to Sun Valley and Jackson Hole. I slept in my car in a borrowed sleeping bag for a couple nights and it snowed outside. I met friendly people in both Jackson and Sun Valley and I slept in rooms in their homes. I ended up here because my friends in Tahoe had a son who lived on the outskirts of town; Park Meadows.
And it snowed- just like last night – when I was here for a few days. And the trees that year were vibrant oranges and yellows and golds. They looked so much more inviting than all those evergreens in Tahoe. I met great people who knew nothing about my life and I decided I could and should leave behind what I had and move the kids here. Starting over never seemed scary. Staying was the part that was scary.
I have never regretted my choice.
Over the year, like all of us who moved here in the 70's, I have lamented the way things were, while actively working to change them. It is a bipolar affliction of aging: loving all of the improvements and missing all of the challenges of "making do."
This week there were triggers for me and I'm trying to align them. I heard fireworks on a weeknight and it seemed so out of sync. When I later found out it was high school kids lighting them off as part of the powder puff football game during Homecoming Week it made me laugh and smile and giggle at the mischief of it all.
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A story I heard yesterday was of a wedding on the deck of a Main Street restaurant recently. Below, the Park City high school marching band had assembled in the middle of the street to serenade them. And that made me smile and recall a birthday of my own years ago, where a police car at night in the middle of winter drove down Main Street and followed behind a group of maybe 40 people and dogs and kids with candy and we had a stealth parade, something I quite loved and that my adult kids helped orchestrate.
There have been so many conversations I have been privy to of late asking the same kinds of questions: who, exactly, are Parkites? The people who work here but don't live here? The people who live here but don't work here? The folks who come every Christmas or 4th of July? I have said it before but when we hosted the Olympics and said, "the world is welcome here" we should have understood the world just might just show up.
Who makes the beds and who makes the salads? Do we know them by name? We used to. We used to all drink together at the Down Under or Miletti's or The Club. The waitress off duty, the ski instructor, the hotel maid, the cab driver, the ski resort owner, the guy who rented out condos. There was no distinction to our shared condition and as the old song goes, we shared often "what condition our condition was in."
Now, (and I contribute to this) there are more fundraising events than there are Saturday nights in a year. So they happen all days and nights of the week. And I remember when it started.
It was 1981 when we returned The Silver Wheel melodrama house to its 1926 glory as The Egyptian Theater. And when we brought Peter Foy of the Flying Foys from Broadway to teach our Peter Pan and the Darling children how to fly on wires… well, we simply thought nothing could ever, ever top that. And, you know, in a way nothing has. Because local actors played all the roles and they flew on that refurbished stage and, for just a few minutes, we flew with them.
We are on a tightrope in an election year and it makes me fearful not hopeful. I do not want to turn back the clock. Please don't misread my words here. If Park City hadn't grown, most of the people I hold dear couldn't have stayed here or moved here. There would be no vibrant cultural community or business district or foodie scene or terrific school district or Olympic training center or trail system or thoughtful open space.
I love the bones of this community. I do. Whole heartedly. Or I would have left years ago. When I got remarried then divorced here. Or lost the love of my life (different guy). Or left a job that no longer fit me. Or decided small town living was just too small and too hard. I have tried – like most of the people I know – to find small ways to contribute back to the town that I love.
And now I look around and say I have lived here long enough to have an opinion formed by experience. Some things are out of balance. We are losing the art of having real connectivity – which is a heart thing, not another paved sidewalk.
When I woke up this morning to the snow on the neighbor's roof and leaves still on my trees – some starting to turn – it took me back to that September so many decades ago. I am grateful I came and stayed and still get muse each Sunday in the Park.
Teri Orr is a former editor of The Park Record. She is the director of the Park City Institute, which provides programming for the George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Center for the Performing Arts.
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