'tis a work of art

Photo courtesy my mom

My mom has been battling Hampton’s public works department for quite some time. The pavement on her block is more than 40 years old and it began flooding when a drainage project deeper in the neighborhood blocked the drainage and the road sank a bit.

On top of that, there was a persistent puddle what is now known to be a leak in a water pipe (which probably contributed to the sagging road). I find the site of the leak to be interesting because it is about where a sewage pipe ruptured one winter 2000-2001. I didn’t know that morning, but my car wasn’t covered in frost. That was frozen poo water. When I headed to the parking lot after school, my car stank to high heaven.

The picture above is what I guess was a flash of creativity from my mom. In the puddle is the detritus from a rainstorm that halted the work my mom finally got on the road. The rest is what’s left of the pavement that was on our block when my family moved in 1972.

Apparently, someone inadvertently wiped our block off public works’ map, so it was missed in the 1990s streetscape project elsewhere in the neighborhood and almost got missed this time around had my mom not been persistent.

That’s what they told my mom. She’s still talking to the workers. You’re not pushing bulldozers down her road without telling her what’s going on today.

A part of me is finally glad to see that old road go, and I’m glad my mom’s hard work paid off. I lost track of how many times we had to dump gravel at the end of our driveway because there was no driveway apron and the front yard was washing away due to the malfunctioning ditch. There was uneven, cracked pavement that I was told was caused when an Army convoy came to pick my dad up when he was horrifically late for duty once. And then the stormwater. Sure, my hometown is sinking while sea level rises, but we’re far enough from a body of water that the road shouldn’t flood the way it has recently. We’re lucky that our house sits on the highest point on the block, and then is about 2½ feet off the ground on top of that. Our neighbor’s driveway is below grade and his truck constantly is threatened.

But that pavement is going away. That pavement that predates my birth. The stones and bitumen of my grandmother, my parents, Theresa and me, and on occasion, my niece and nephews.

As a kid, I loved when someone washed a car in our driveway. I would carve distributary channels in the gravel with sticks in hopes the water would obey my designs on its way to the ditch.

I loved how its rough surface sounded as my bicycle tires rolled across. It even had an unmistakable feeling in a car.

The ancient, faded grey asphalt nearly was too narrow for a two-lane road with occasional street parking. It was terrible and aggregating, especially after everyone else got the curb-and-gutter treatment, but it was ours.

It’s just a non-porous aggregate, but it’s also another piece of memory of the Hampton I grew up in being scraped up and hauled away.

But it’s not getting replaced with just any asphalt. That’s my mother’s asphalt. And if I see it repaved again, it’s because my mother got it back on the list.

And she sometimes wonders why I question public officials for a living.

three’s a crowd

I learned some saddening news this week.

Goodbye, house

You’ll always be home to me

Matt, Shaunelle and Loaf are moving away.

My bonus year of guaranteed couch surfing in RVA is over.

Matt and the Greatest Dog in the World are heading to Georgia. Shaunelle now works in the Tri-Cities, so it looks like Petersburg, Hopewell and Colonial Heights will remain a part of my life in some form or fashion.

Although we knew this had to happen at some point, it’s still something I never wanted to happen. This house atop Chimborazo was the catalyst for the best post-college experience I’ve had  so far. You could come and knock on our door because we’d been waiting for you. This was our Friends house. This was our How I Met Your Mother house.  This was our Jersey Shore, our Real World. This was our halfway house between the our early 20s and the real world.

Much like my fraternity and our infamous chapter house at 210 Deep Creek Road, this was a house where inseparable bonds were forged.

If that house were a sitcom, I was the among the characters added after the first season to try to keep it afloat. I came after the first year of tenants. Matt and Shaunelle had lost two before I arrived in August 2009. After I arrived, we went through two fourth roommates before we realized it just wasn’t going to work with four. When I left for six months, my room never got refilled. I was able to come back in to round out my third year before heading to Charlottesville.

Those three years, including the time when I officially  unofficially no longer lived there were amazing. Over time, it truly became home. The very first time I changed the address on my license was there. Other than my mom’s house, I had been pretty transient during and after college (never mind the extraordinary amount of time I spent on Bull Run Drive in Hopewell). I couldn’t bear to go to the DMV back then and say that some of the places I’ve lived back then were where I officially lived (never mind that being a little illegal). When I arrived at that house, I knew it was going to be a place that stuck with me. It was in that house when I stopped calling my mom’s house home. Never mind that I was subletting: It was home.

But it is time to go. It’s run its course. Despite how amazing living in that house was, preparing to make my home as a married man is going to be more awesome. Although probably with fewer keggers in the backyard. Probably.

I still have the key to 210 on my key chain. When I got my new license, I still kept the one that said I was a Richmond, Va., resident in that Church Hill home. I’ll continue to hold on to it.