Monday, February 28, 2005

Nervous Twitch

I guess I must need a lesson in change. It seems like what used to be doesn’t matter so much anymore. Why else would everything be on it’s way to the scrap heap? All this demolition and upheaval is giving me a nervous twitch.

The Howell L. Watkins Jr. High School demolition is a done deal. A few backhoes and bulldozers was all it took to tear it down and now they’ve swept it up like bread crumbs off a dirty floor. But that’s not all. I drove down Park Avenue today to find that all the homes on one side of an entire block have been leveled. I didn’t even scream. I know, big surprise since I always scream. I screamed twice at Howell Watkins if that makes up for it. Actually it was more like four times from the time I discovered it’s plight to the end result that looked like combed dirt. Casey was in the car with me the day we saw the demolition in progress. The wreckage was about midway from being complete. I screamed really good then. Yesterday, Cally and I happened to cut through that way, and since she hadn’t witnessed my previous scream, I got away with screaming one more time. Kind of like getting a wild card. Even she was a bit taken aback by it (the destruction, not my scream.) The scream comes standard with a mom who lives in a childhood playground disrupted by “progress.” But the drama wasn’t there for Cally. It wasn't her memory. She just thought it looked odd.

Funny, but like Cally with the Watkins wreckage, I don’t feel anguished by the Park Avenue demolition. Maybe it’s because they just trashed nondescript houses and left all the trees... so far. I wonder what they are doing, but I don’t exhaust myself over it as with other nostalgic demolition. The city seems to be revitalizing and I’ve found them to be considerate and protective of historical buildings. Seeing as one of the buildings being torn down was a form of purple, and another was similarly “wrong” in color, I’m not screaming. Nothing against purple, but I find it lessens my attachment to a place when it’s smothered in it. I just watch in amazement as a cloud of white dust kicks up and emptiness takes over a place once crowded with concrete.

What’s really got my neck in a kink is what’s happening in my own backyard. Literally. I hesitate to mention it because, well, it’s for the common good and all. But even the common good can make a mess and threaten my pursuit of happiness and it’s sort of freakin’ me out. I just have to say it or I’ll go nuts.

The demolition crew is making way their way toward my yard now at an aggressive pace, trashing fences, uprooting trees and knocking down and tearing up whatever they meet in their path. The utility workers have machetes and a bobcat with this monstrous claw thing attached to the front of it and it’s jawing it’s way through the neighborhood hacking like Freddy Krueger at whatever doesn’t keel over in submission. I’m getting worried. They’ve already jumped ahead into my yard and taken down the fence that borders mine and my neighbors yard. Then they laid all the sections of his fence on my grass and put a tacky bright orange mesh barrier up in it’s place about 5 feet back from where the real fence was. That was when the twitch probably started. Today they spent most of their time digging up a palm tree in a neighboring yard that made the mistake of growing in their path. They took their hatchets and other tools of destruction and taunted me by ripping up the pleasantly dark and shady, “Sleepy Hollow” cove in the back corner of my yard that I had carefully trimmed for effect. I loved that part of my yard. It was like a cool hideout or something. I came home to find it gone. An ugly, open space was in its place screaming, “Be afraid, be very afraid.” So I have been.

I’ve had work to do at the computer and they are so noisy out there. Every time I hear a hacking sound or the growl of the bobcat, I jump up and run around first one corner, then another, literally flinging myself into the kitchen, face smashed up against the screen of the window to check on my tree. I try to imagine living without the view of my avocado tree with the swing and the ladder leaning up against it. Months ago when they first told us they were going to be coming through to repair the sewer line, they said they would remove any plantings within the 5 foot median area back there. You bet I ran and got my tape measurer and then felt a little overzealous when I found my tree was about 6 feet in from the telephone pole. Not to worry.

But, the Bobcat is heartless. It rammed a cement thing for about an hour straight trying to clear things out. I’m getting a little worried. No, make that scared. Plain scared. Since the day I measured my tree’s distance from what I hope is even the right place from which to measure, the hurricanes hit and my tree took to leaning quite a bit... yes, right into what appears to be “the zone.” What to do but watch and wait and run to the window a lot until they get really close and then fling open the door, run across the yard waving my arms and become one of those ranting loonies who tries to stand in the way of the inevitable. Oyvay! What to do? I won’t be working at home tomorrow. Who will watch and fret while I’m away? Not my neighbor behind me. He has mellowed with the years and figures what they take they take, and he will replant. Sure, he doesn’t have a tree with a swing and a ladder and shade. Ugh! How can I freak out with a right mind when my neighbor isn’t even flustered enough to go out and look a little worried. I can’t complain if he’s not. Dang. He just goes out and sits by the pool, takes a dip, calmly ignoring the sights and sounds that harangue me.

My only hope is that Casey seems to be getting the flu or something. Now, don’t think evil of me, she got it on her own without my help or encouragement. I promise I am a loving mother. I even read her a few chapters of a Hardy Boys book tonight and rubbed her feet and did all kinds of really great mom things to ease her illness. But I’m just thinking that maybe I might have to stay home tomorrow if she isn’t well enough to go to school. Yeah, if the wrecking crew makes it as far as my tree and my swing and my ladder, then she’ll be here to duct tape me to it in hopes they will show some sort of civil or humanitarian concern and at least take a second to consider my view and sympathize with me and most importantly let me get my video camera out before they hack my Avocado tree into splinters. My luck, the claw will obstruct the operator’s vision and the sound of the engine roar will mask the sounds of my screams and I’ll be ripped up into little toothpicks along with my tree.

Well, you get the drift. I am in need of someone with a tranquilizer gun and good aim to put me out of my misery until they make it past my yard and onto the next one where a whole length of 6 foot high hedge has been cultivated by it’s owners to block their view of my next door neighbor’s property. I wonder how they are handling the impending doom.

I have another whole story about the joy of properly running sewers, but if I share that at this time, not only will you have aged considerably by the time you finish reading, but then it won’t make sense at all that I would dream of standing in the way of the common good. That story is called, “Go flush a toilet” and it’s the story of how to cure a faulty perspective. Since my perspective is whacked right now and I have absolutely no intention of fixing it until the sewers run clean and the sod and the neighbor’s fence have been replaced and I find out the plight of my backyard vista, I will refrain from sharing that tidbit of insight with you. Especially since in that story I freely encourage anyone who finds my perspective out of whack to use my theory on me. When I have my act together and I’ve recovered from all that may or may not happen in my own backyard, and once the nervous tick subsides, then and only then will we see about the other story.

For now, I’m going to see what kind of anti-anxiety or antacid medications we have in the cupboard. And where the heck is the snake oil vendor when you need ‘em.

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