For the last several months, our city has been installing new sidewalks and water pipes. This has meant shutting down long sections of major streets and bringing in many pieces of big equipment while macadam is torn up, sewer drains are moved, and water pipes are replaced. We awake at seven in the morning to heavy drills and tin drums rolling around.
Because our section of the street is the widest, the construction crew has been storing dozens of granite curbs and other items in this section. Trucks travel back and forth tamping down temporary trenches, sending up swirls of dirt. Our sidewalks are torn up, plastic barrels narrow the street even more, and our driveways are shut off for days, even weeks, at a time. The lines for cable and the telephone are scattered across the dirt, and one neighbor, with two young school-age children, lost both for over a week. Apparently these lines going to be reinstalled about two inches below the surface, without the protection of plastic pipes or depth below the ground.
And through it all I have the same thought: if people really wonder where my ideas as a writer come from, they should look out my window. I have imagined hapless construction workers clearing the lawn to lay out the new sidewalk and digging up a body. I have turned carelessly buried plastic water bottles into bags of stolen gems haphazardly lost and now gone forever, or until . . . I have imagined neighbors arguing endlessly with City Hall about the path of the new sidewalk, all in a desperate attempt to prevent someone from digging up—what? The trash collector is required to come before seven in the morning, and at that early hour, before we have full light, is witness to more than he should know about.
If you want to know where I get my ideas, just look out my window. Or better yet, take a walk through the neighborhood. Ideas are everywhere.