Teri Orr: Embracing ether | ParkRecord.com

Teri Orr: Embracing ether

Teri Orr, Park Record columnist

Years ago, more than a decade, maybe two, I was dervishing around my house getting ready to create a dinner party and my neighbor wandered over. She saw pots and pans all over the kitchen floor and tablecloths on the kitchen countertops and unpolished silver on the table and flowers in the sink. The guests were due in two hours. I hadn’t started cooking yet. She looked at the scene calmly and said, "You need time to expand today don’t you?" And just like that…time did. I finished everything and had lit candles, put on music and taken a bath before the guests arrived. To this day, I have no idea how that afternoon happened but the 120 minutes I had, suspended themselves somehow and I had all the time I needed. I credit my magical friend.

She still has the ability to warp time, to send us down rabbit holes, to find portals where we escape completely to another dimension and returned unharmed. I never know when she will use her powers and quite frankly I don’t think she really does either but I am always grateful for the ride.

I understand the Alice in Wonderland reference of "down the rabbit hole," could imply drugs so I want to clarify, none are involved, save the occasional glass of wine. And it isn’t the kind of "rabbit hole" that scientists fear where they become so engrossed in a project that hours and days and weeks go by, where they have a single focus and riddles of the universe are starting to reveal themselves but then maybe don’t and the whole process is disorienting. No, this is a kind of rabbit hole adventure in the sense you never saw it coming and time is elastic and place you enter is vast.

You might think of it as a portal– more science fiction-like and that would work, too. The idea that one minute you are standing in your living room and the next you are swimming and breathing easily underwater or perched on the top of a treehouse in a forest.

This week, after weeks of trying to find time to get together "during the holidays," we spontaneously made time after work to steal dinner. We met in a restaurant, even though we both like to cook, because it seemed a better use of our short time together.

We immediately started the threads of conversations we had left off months before. Work, family, books we were reading, how great the Brussels sprouts were, the weight of our sadness about the recent tragedies in France and Nigeria.

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Then, as we were winding down that phase, a dear, dear friend I rarely see, showed up with her love and sat right next to us. There were hugs and laughter and introductions and then her guests, who are based in Singapore but have a home here and maybe Spain, joined the table. And then, like puppies, our conversations were falling all over each other, and there was much laughter and time spun and stretched and allowed us to fall in that portal until we had to forcibly extract ourselves to head home and allow my dear friend to entertain her guests. But in the middle, we learned about each other and our shared travels and love of Park City and jobs we’ve had for all our varied years.

It was a parallel existence that took us far away and returned us safely and we never left our seats at the table.

This week starts your opportunity to fall down rabbit holes and enter portals freely for more than 10 days. You just buy a ticket to a yet-to-be-released film that debuts this week in Park City as part of the Sundance Film Festival. You can watch fact-filled documentaries with subject matter from the (modified) foods you eat, to human trafficking, to how we are all racing to extinction. Or you can be amused, depressed, elevated in a film that is a dramatic feature and not required to stick to the facts. You enter a theater, all the lights go down and you fall into a rabbit hole where time and belief suspends and the journey begins.

Or you can just pick an aisle in the grocery store (yes, I have done this because I am just this weird) and stand in it pretending to pick out… anything. A spice, a tea, a box of baggies. And just listen to the conversations swirl around you. The accents. The snippets of others realities of Park City/the films/the traffic/the skiing/the lack of a decent pastrami-filled deli in town, still, after all these years.

Bundle up and walk the length of Main Street with no agenda. Give yourself all the time you can to accomplish this. Ask the universe or my friend Mary Ann to suspend time for you. And then wander into exhibits that will only last this week (New Frontier at the Old Claim Jumper) and see the free treats Sundance brought to share. Stop at Cows or the No Name — grab a beverage and listen. Enter a gallery with a special show of artists. Sit down at Terigo and have lunch. Enjoy all the people enjoying our town.

It doesn’t always happen — that portal opening… it never happens when you demand it. But if you allow yourself to be open to the possibilities this week you could find yourself slipping down rabbit holes and popping back out again — like a wild game of chutes and ladders. Not every day, perhaps, but just possibly this Sunday in the Park…

Teri Orr is a former editor of The Park Record. She is the director of the organization that provides programming for the George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Center for the Performing Arts.