I may have mentioned before that I live in the center of Downtown Jerusalem. Reactions to this information are mixed. They range from “That is so so cool!” to “Um, why?” The short answer is that I wanted to live alone and this was the best and most affordable option, while still being walking distance to everywhere other single Orthodox Jews live. And for the most part, my apartment situation has been an utter delight. My apartment is light and airy, tiny but perfectly sized for me, and truly in a fabulously central location. Almost no complaints. Almost. Although, I do have at least one complaint, and IT IS HUGE.
One of the things people worried about with me living in town is the noise. (No one here was worried it was dangerous to live there alone, because #Israel.) They thought my proximity to bars and restaurants would keep me up at night and cause me untold angst. For some reason, though, the noise of the restaurants and bars barely registers in my little studio. Even though they are open every night (including Friday night- sigh) and even though I am only one flight up and leave my windows open for the breeze, it is not the boisterous chatter of people much more social than me that is causing me the most distress. It is the roadwork.
Most people who now hear where I live wonder, “Haven’t they been working on your street for a while now?” Why yes, kind friends, they have! They have been working on “fixing” my street since before I moved in, and I have no doubt, will continue working on it till long after I am gone (either after my lease is up or at 120, whichever comes first.) I would like to say that the municipality is working on a huge upgrade to both the city and the world, based on the amount of time this renovation is taking, but I literally have no clue what the plan is with this street, and it’s been 6 months!
|Site of "Construction/Brick Moving/Earsplitting Noise" at Night|
They seem to be moving the barriers side to side, incrementally, weekly. I am pretty sure they are doing this purposely, to mess with me. Sometimes they will put down new bricks, sometimes, those bricks are gone the next day. Sometimes there are cranes and bulldozers, other times, shovels and jackhammers. Sometimes there are barriers, sometimes you are free to wander in and fall to your death in an unguarded hole in the ground. It’s truly an exciting game of “What on earth are they doing?”
But honestly, I wouldn’t care at all if they wanted to build a new light rail line through the street if it wasn’t such a huge, life-altering inconvenience to me with no foreseeable end. Take, for example, the fact that the road is essentially a one-car-at-a-time quagmire that is perpetually filled with honking cars. If, for some reason, I wished to subject someone giving me a ride, or a cab driver to that mess, that would be one thing. But even if I did, I’d be caught in a web of gates, keeping me from my door, unless I wanted to climb back up the block and then down, or down the block and then back up. That is to say, there is no point in getting a ride to my block, as I will essentially have to walk 2 extra blocks anyway. This also makes food or grocery delivery all but impossible, as I feel horrible making anyone deal with the construction zone that is my street. You can imagine what a delight this was during the weeks I was moving in and delivery men would come with my furniture. No amount of “I’m so sorry” could wipe the scowls off their faces after tangling with my street.
But truly, the worst part is the noise, as everyone had warned me. See, in New York, road work and construction work in general are often done overnight (on highways) and on private streets during working hours, so as not to disrupt the sleeping residents of that area. Not so in downtown Jerusalem! Prime brick- moving hours are from 6-8 AM and premium jackhammering takes place from 10pm to 12 am most nights. In case you’re playing at home, that’s before most people wake up and while most people are trying to get to sleep! And if you’re wondering what is going on from 8 am until 10 pm in that construction area… you guessed it! Nothing! Perhaps the workers are catching up on all that sleep they’re missing while they assault my eardrums late at night and early the next morning. And lest you think it’s just the jackhammering and bulldozing that make up the soundtrack to my life these days, there is also varying levels of screaming that takes place amongst the workers as they move their bricks. And I assure you, there are few things more melodious than a man yelling “Ahmed! Ahmed!” at his friend who is down the block, jackhammering, oblivious to any other sounds. Only I am privy to the constant and unending calls of “Ahmed!,” as Ahmed works to blow out my hearing faculties from a different vantage point.
|And here it is in the daytime-true beauty!|
So that’s basically what it’s like to live on a construction site for 6 months, stretching out into infinity. Do I think the work will ever be done? In my low moments- no. I assume they are building an underground tunnel to China or spearheading a Jerusalem subway project on my block without telling anyone. I imagine there are no actual plans for the street, and that the brick-moving will continue, interminably, forever. Who really knows? All I know is that it’s another way Israel is showing me that it’s not perfect, because nothing is perfect. There will be bumps along the way, but I think living on a noisy street in Jerusalem beats living on a quiet street in Queens any day!