Teri Orr: I am thankful
I AM thankful for all the time from last Thanksgiving to this one. For ALL the things I never saw coming and survived. For another year on the planet — which is easy to take for granted until you start to count those people — who didn’t get to stay for another year.
The Pause. The Sickness. Whatever euphemism you want to use for a global pandemic, has changed everything. How we educate and recreate have been greatly altered in a compressed timeframe with folks who never studied for this — with folks who are inventing new ways to learn.
I am grateful for my pod people — my text groups who are all women — by coincidence — married and unmarried of all ages. One group is my decades-long neighbors including the neighbor who moved away two years ago but still lives in Summit County. Those text messages at all hours of the day and night — in our safe spaces — have been priceless in their quick wit and slight snark. I have laughed more because of them than at anything else all year. And their tenderness when we share our secret fears and hurts. You know who you are.
You are love.
Just like the younger posse of women from all over town who are whip-smart and wicked connected and so quick witted I bow to them. Their constant galactic kindnesses are humbling. We have navigated politics and child rearing and one case of COVID. And so much Park City-ing … trying to care for our community in quiet ways.
I know all my neighbors of decades better now and differently. With none of us rushing off to work each morning or coming home late at night anymore, we are around days and nights — weekdays and weekends. We have time for driveway conversations and we share resources. Tulip bulbs and eggs, a rake, a tree saw, a wave.
In the ongoing excavation of rooms in this old house there were found books and pictures and artifacts I had no idea I had lost and forgotten. I have redecorated — not from buying any new stuff but by moving around old stuff. By sitting in rooms in the middle of the day that I never spent any measurable time in — in the middle of day — and found all the ways they didn’t work.
So many parts of my life are more functional.
And so many parts are just richer. When my friend chose to tiptoe to my front porch on a sad rainy Sunday afternoon and leave the perfect bag of thin crispy cookies — I cried disproportionately — it was exactly what my sadness needed. When the two mama deer and their combined five babies came to eat from bird feeders this week at dusk, they looked at me — we nodded — and they kept on dining. For almost an hour.
My little family has sent silly cocktail recipes (the adults not the teenagers) along with funny stories. My son made the declaration he was canceling our family Thanksgiving — which was a gift — so I didn’t have to be the bad guy. It is the right thing. He and his sister have checked in — in new ways these past few months. It is less a vague — how are you? And more directional — how are you doing … with this issue or that?
Without COVID we would all still be rushing and avoiding more difficult conversations that the luxury of time allows for us to start.
I see more sunrises and sunsets. More dark skies filled with stars and planets and more wildlife around me.
I have relearned to cook for myself. Of course I cooked for myself pre-COVID but nothing with any real effort as a single person. A grilled piece of meat and baked potato and a serviceable salad but not a real entree that took thought and planning and effort. And I remembered I used to like to cook and it honestly turns out edible more times than not.
What I have been lousy at, really lousy at, is reading a book. I can’t commit. I have a shortened attention span but lengthened amount of time to read. The very thing I thought I would crave with stacks of unread books in each of room of my home — I cannot seem to make happen — that kind of focus.
I am grateful too for the waves of sadness that hit me in the middle of the day or late at night or on a walk on the Rail Trail. I am reminded of those things that are no longer the same and the people who have been lost to this disease or sickened by it. And all of the collateral damage of the front-line workers — from bus drivers to ICU personnel. All the custodians and teachers and front desk people at hospitals and high schools. And all the young people who have lost irreplaceable chapters of their youth.
I have never been a weepy woman but I cry a lot more right now. More than I have in my long life. Not just because of something sad because I am not just sad. Sometimes I cry because the sunrise is so hopeful — all those colors and changing skies and bird songs. Sometimes I am sad at the loss — at the damage we have done to the planet and to each other. I sometimes laugh out loud so hard it brings tears — at the moose who show up in my yard and act goofy trying to get the seed out of the bird feeders. At the sweet toddlers who bike past my house and their parents have them wave and “say hello to Miss Teri” as if I was some landed gentry southern elder.
I am grateful to be here — right here — another year. A very, very difficult year. And I know there are lots of places on the planet where other folks feel good about where they have been hunkered down or quarantined or landed. And they are filled with cornucopias of gratitude of their own. I have been here for decades and I have never been more grateful on Thanksgiving — to be full of hard-fought thanks … this Sunday in the Park.
Teri Orr is a former editor of The Park Record. She is the founder 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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