A family making the best of a traffic jam

Under Construction: A Study in Perpetuity

Every time I take a trip anywhere, there is bound to be construction.

When I was a newer driver, these instances seemed to feel temporary and targeted at me. WHY did *whomever* choose now to haul out these roadblocks? There aren’t even people WORKING ON THE DAMN ROAD. Take it all down until there are. GOD. (Then again, when I was a newer driver, I was poor as shit and didn’t ever go anywhere, so looking back with the clarity of 20/20 hindsight, I see now that construction was probably always a thing, everywhere.)

The point is, I feel like this even now. I prefer things to be wrapped up neatly, one square at a time. In the infrastructure of my dreams, road workers would be settled into one piece, start and finish it, and move to the next piece. Nice and neat. Also, they would do all of this in the hours during which I’m not driving, out of a courtesy to me.

Under Construction. It’s a phrase loaded with negativity, a promise that smooth sailing is not ahead. The idea of it is rage-y, the reality of it is infuriating. Detours offer promise, but the memory of the way you were going to go, the best way, the easiest way, give those signs a rug-burny edge that color even the quickest path a smoldering-resentment-beige. (I was gonna say charcoal, but I love charcoal colors and wear them at least in some form daily, so RESENTMENT CAN’T BE CHARCOAL.)

This year is Under Construction. (And waiting-room beige.) We’ve all had to detour, to go around, and, most infuriatingly of all, wait. We’re stuck in traffic, and while we know that the thing disrupting our path to the rest of our lives is stopping literally EVERYONE, that doesn’t get us to work any faster. And we KNOW that nobody knows how long it’s going to be, and we’ve PLAYED all the road games, and we ATE ALL THE SNACKS already, so WHY?

Tom Petty, man, we really wish that you were still here. Swear to God, you had a song for everything.

Ultimately, the thing that we hate is interruption. Because what’s worse than when you’ve got a road map, and lined out how to get there, and then there’s a damn ROAD BLOCK and the whole thing goes bust? And this year, man, has been such a huge interruption.

What happens when the interruption is so long that it becomes life?

And therein lies the rub.

I used to have a plan. In fact, when I look at my 2020 plan, written with great purpose in October 2019, I could cry. Much of it was job-focused: develop a Creative Department training program for new locations, lock down monthly Feast Menu rollout. Some of it was finance focused: Save $5000 in general fund, Start vacation-specific fund. All of it was nice and neat, designed as precise stepping stones to get to the next spot: 2021, which held larger goals: attend large-scale movie festival (I had my heart set on Sundance and TIFF).

None of those things happened. Instead, I learned the process of gutting and rebuilding a bathroom, the intricacies of typography, the long and disturbing history of gelatin dishes, how difficult it is to demolish the bridge to understanding that is step-parenting and build a new one, albeit messier but definitely constructed with love, with the help of my stepsons, how to build a website, how to launch a business, how to spend my time doing things that mattered to me, how to tutor those learning to read, how to GET OUT THE DAMN VOTE, and, finally, how to say goodbye, even when you don’t want to do it like, at all.

My hair is shorter and my fuse is longer. My idea of what constitutes workspace is weaker, and my relationship with my husband and children is (so much) stronger. My stomach is still a bit of a spreading puddle, but my tears of self-pity have dried.

The waiting in the most hellish of traffic jams turned into the most beautiful detour.

I will forever rage at construction signs…I can’t help it, I’m human. But right after my fit, I’ll turn up the music/podcast/inner focus – and, now, be grateful for the unexpected gift of more time.

FreelanceJen

I start every day vowing to become healthier and end every day by zeroing out my fridge.
That's the kind of self-sabotage that forms the core of my being.
You know what I'm good at, though? Spinning words into a magical skein that envelopes you in success. Let's talk about that first, and if snacks end up happening, so be it.

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