Summer has come early, much to the benefit of the construction crews. I’ve been fortunate in that I have a friend and coworker who lives two blocks from me, so I’ve mostly been getting rides from her, but on days I don’t, my commute is now re-routed at several points due to various cones, bulldozers, and barricades. I have to go out my back door (because my road is closed and they’ve torn up parts of the sidewalk), cut through the alley and run down the street .3 miles to the bus stop (because the bus has been rerouted because my road is now closed). The last block of this sprint is behind a set of barricades because they’re building apartments on that block. I worry that the bus driver isn’t going to see me and won’t stop.
The bus is being re-routed currently because the cross-street near where I live is also being fixed and they’ve closed the bridge over the highway. It used to stop somewhat close to my train transfer, but lately, for some reason, it’s been re-rerouted and now goes straight instead of turning, so I have a bit of a jaunt when I transfer. And they’re building new offices kiddie-corner from work, so when I get off the train, I have another construction site to circumvent, which has forced the closures of various roads around my office.
I’ve lived here for almost six years and I’ve done more exploring in the past month just trying to find alternate routes than in all the time prior to that. June just started and I’m already sick of the construction. Unfortunately, my road isn’t supposed to re-open for three months or until October (they’ve been saying both as if they are the same; the math doesn’t work to me). I feel like I should wear a hard hat at all times.
Construction is ugly. It’s loud and inconvenient. There are always delays. Often things get worse before they get better. For weeks, with the building kiddie corner from work, we endured bone-rattling quakes as the pile driver pounded steel poles into the ground around the perimeter of the work site. Everyone had headaches. One day our building smelled like gas; we suspected they hit a line. I worry about the structural integrity of our office now.
On my street, which my apartment faces, they’re putting in new water mains and doing a much-needed re-paving. No one actually told me this was going to happen; I was out on one of my recent early evening walks when I noticed strange pale yellow pipes running along the sidewalk for several blocks. Spigots sprouted at equal intervals and gray hoses lay coiled in the lawns. When I found out about the street closing I was a little annoyed–less than I would have been if I currently had a car I’d be trying to park but more than if I had been informed of this project further in advance. Three to five months is a long time to be without a several-block section of roadway.
So far, at least on my end of the closure, they’ve dug up five-foot pipes in front of each residence and hauled away all of the streetlights, their electrical wires exposed like compound fractures twisting through skin. They’ve cut down and carted away several trees; it’s unclear if this is related to the road construction or apart from it. The A-frame barricades blink on and off like stationary fireflies.*
Saturday I woke before seven to the sound of giant trucks chugging and snorting past and thought, “This is going to be a long summer.” I like to sleep with the windows open and I like to sleep past seven when I can. Beeping trucks and shouting construction workers make that tough.
Thankfully, because the construction is concentrated several blocks down, at least for now, the rumbling procession of trucks stopped after a short time and I was able to fall back asleep.
But my street was always pretty loud. It’s a major thoroughfare, at least when it’s open, with sedans and semis and garbage trucks and police cars whizzing past at all hours of the day and night. A few people will scamper (or stumble) past noisily, sometimes late, sometimes early, sometimes singing hosannas because there’s a church at the other end of my block.
The lack of lights has made my street very dark at night. Not many people used to be out walking; no one’s out now. It’s a little eerie: the only lights in the area are from the buildings and any lit apartment windows. Or the full moon.
It’s actually kind of peaceful, though. The other day I was able to hear the trees rustle while I was sitting in my living room, the first time in a long time that’s been true. It was such a pleasant noise, surpassed only by the chirping birds I can hear as I’m writing this and the scattered giggles coming from some children across the street. And the added dark and lack of traffic passing by has made it much easier to sleep.
This is a long and winding post to say that creativity is like construction: it’s messy. It’s a pain. It’s painstaking. There are delays. It always takes a long time. It gets worse before it gets better. It’s hard to see where it’s going and sometimes it doesn’t seem worth it. Often you have to destroy something that’s fine, that’s functional (like my road) and start over in order to make something better. It feels like that’s where I am with my writing. I’m so close, but I know there are parts that I’ll need to strip down, dig out, pave over. Until then, it’s under construction.
*Or disco shrimp