Sometimes, in this sorry world, things happen that we don’t like, don’t want, don’t approve of, have no interest in, are vastly irritated by, but cannot change. Death, cancer, falling out of love, flat tires, surprise dental work on a holiday weekend, you name it. In my case, it is road work.
The phrase “road work” brings up different scenarios for different people. You might think of that pothole repair in front of the local high school, while someone else imagines three lanes closed on Interstate 70 just east of Denver. Anyone reading the work order for Newtown Road, which merely says “bike lanes,” would probably conjure up paved shoulders and newly painted white lines.
You would be so wrong. The road is wider by about five feet on each side. It is also, in front of my house, four feet higher than last week. This has entailed the importation of many truckloads of dirt, which were poured judiciously onto the surface and then ground down by a huge yellow machine with a studded roller. When this is in motion, it sounds, from my kitchen, as though I am inside the roller. Pictures rattle on the wall and there’s a new crack in my cement front stoop. The rest of the time it merely sounds as if a 747 is warming up just outside the door.
The project was announced two years ago, and I was told I’d lose the screening I had unknowingly planted on the county-owned roadside. I wasn’t happy, but I decided to suck it up. I approve of bike lanes. Many of my close personal friends ride up and down the hill I live on. Change happens, and it’s one of those Not In My Back Yard situations that we all get faced with at some point in life. I really do believe in individual sacrifice for the good of the whole. I also believe in choosing my battles carefully, so I don’t end up spending years being angry and not having fun or getting any writing done.
What I hadn’t understood is the dust. The lifting and widening of my road generates so much dust that every night I have to wipe down every surface inside the house. There’s dust in the sinks, on the window sills, the bookshelves, the edge of the cats’ water bowl. There’s dust inside my medicine cabinet and my bureau drawers. There is even dust in the freezer.
In one week my house went from untidy-but-clean to abjectly filthy. Cars race down my newly-wider street at night and I wake up with dust on my teeth. It’s disgusting, revolting, horrible, and maddening.
I’ll probably live through this. I’ll probably forget how bad it was, too. It’s just one more of those stupid lessons about learning to accept the unacceptable.