A block and a half away from where I stay when in New York City, an engineering feat of extravagant proportions is taking place. The long awaited Second Avenue subway is becoming a reality. And I find, despite the August heat, I am drawn to the site.
There is something romantic about it. The idea that two miles of tunnel will be completed, platforms constructed, tracks put down, art work mounted on the walls, and millions of people for decades and decades will be riding those rails deep underground. The Second Avenue line will last longer than I. All of those babies in the fat tired strollers being pushed along the sidewalks above the gopher tunnel on steroids, they will be white haired and wizened and barring catastrophe the trains will still be running.
There are those who love to complain about the underworld transportation here in New York City. But as someone who lives much of the year in the part of the country that still relies on highways and cars, you will not catch me cranking about a sticky, humid station or a slow running train. The century old system still amazes. So, again and again, I leave the apartment and walk east towards the cacophony of noise and watch what is happening above ground as the sandhogs carve out a tunnel below. Such high risk work they have their own priest to bless them.
I imagine what it will someday be. I cross the street and pop in to the small bakery where the most delicious cupcakes can be purchased and wonder what will be there in its place one hundred years from now. Hopefully these dark chocolate fist-size cakes with the gooey centers.
I have other things I could be doing. But I continue to return. It isn't just the breadth of the project but the depth. The fact that they must dig so deep. Down and down they go because that is where the work needs to be. Down where the carving away what has to be removed is most difficult. Where explosions are felt as progress is made. Where one can get hurt. Badly.
I have things I need to do at my desk. Editing, reading, answering emails. And writing. The writing is going slowly. It is a new project. It involves going deep. To the difficult places. To the places a writer often tries to avoid. Because of the danger. The explosions. The fear of what is coming next. When it gets tough I abandon my tunnel. I head down the street and watch as those far braver than I continue to push on.