And then the Lord said, “Let there be no more digging up the pavement in front of my house with excavation equipment including bulldozers, jackhammers, road graders and scoopers that could pick up a naval attack vessel.”
They began yesterday at 6:59 am, one minute ahead of schedule. Twelve of them, in orange vests and drapey hats, like bugs on a hill, each with a tool in hand or under foot. Several drove, whirling like dervishes in miniature tank-ish vehicles, scraping and loading, lifting and passing. Reminding me of something Balanchine would have choreographed, the display of coordination in the street was mesmerizing, if not beautiful, on some level. Not my level. My level was desperate. Noisily desperate. Climb into the dryer desperate.
For the entire day, they produced sounds that I had never heard before, a gutteral, snarly audiotrack of destruction too abrasive for a mammal such as myself, a mammal who was trying to form literate sentences at a desk not twenty yards away. I formed two, maybe three, and then, realizing the futility, decided to clean out the kids’ bathroom cabinets. For hours, I sorted ponytail accessories–elastics from the kind with the balls on the end, fuzzy from sleek–as well as barrettes, clips, bobbies, headbands and ribbons, contact solutions, dental flosses (is it flossi?), lotions–for itchy skin, sensitive skin, vanilla skin, strawberry skin–and the ever-critical battery of sunscreen products. I emerged lathered in cream, headbands on my head, cotton balls in my ears.
By sundown, I had performed similar service on several closets, baskets of magazines, the pantry and the aforementioned head, as my bangs needed trimming. Alas, the racket ceased. In my door, a note. NOTICE, it said. Please remove your car from your driveway before 7 am tomorrow morning and do not return it to your driveway for three days, until after the cement we are pouring is cured. I needed curing. No, they needed curing. What was wrong with the street anyway?
I set my clock for 6:58 and went outside in my pajamas to find the men waiting. Waiting for me. “There she is,” one said, in a different language that I did not understand, though I know that is what he said. “Finally,” said another.
Yeah, right. Out of my way, Mr. Bobcat.
I parked a mile down the street and traipsed back, still in my pajamas, yes, mumbling like tired crazy people do when they are outside in their pajamas. On the way in, I noticed in the window’s reflection that my hair was sticking up like a carrot in one place on my crown and that another section was plastered sideways onto my cheek. It could have been worse, I thought. I checked to see that I was, in fact, wearing my pajamas.
The clattering began as soon as I shut the door behind me. I showered, dressed and left the house, sound waves twitching through me as I trekked to my car. When I returned hours later, the noise had stopped, only to begin again tomorrow, when it will be my neighbor’s turn.