I’m staring out the big plate glass window of the coffee shop on Clark Street watching the road construction and wind collide: gales of dust blow in curlicues over the street, across the park with its weedy running track, over Carol’s Country Western Bar and the bank with the flashing sign offering pizza when you open a checking account. Cars and bikes navigate the orange cones and yellow caution tape and dust.
When Patrick visited from D.C. last weekend, he couldn’t believe how many streets were being ripped up, how they’re always fixing or unfixing something in Chicago.
In high school I edited the school paper, and in service of the last issue before I graduated, I parked my parents’ car by the side of a two-lane road to shoot a photo of an orange construction sign that said “Road Work Ahead”. We put the photo on the back cover that June, and I thought it was pretty profound. Road work. Y’know, like our personal roads?
This weekend my college friend Adam hosted his annual get-together/Homecoming footballl extravaganza/bar night (which Patrick chronicled). We caught up. People have switched careers, created one-year-olds, bought houses, grown beards, earned degrees. It was an easy sort of catch-up, the kind that only happens with old friends who’ve seen you change so much.
So this morning I’m watching the construction outside and the dust and dead leaves and trash swirl, and the brown puppy tied up outside stares around with worried eyes and sniffs the air.
Right now it seems profound, but really it’s just simple: When I snapped that photo of “Road Work Ahead”, I didn’t know that there is no road. There’s just work, of all kinds — on yourself, your relationships, goals big and small. There’s just work, and there’s just ahead.