I have a strange curiosity, maybe a mild obsession, concerning new highway and road construction. There is constant road construction taking place all over San Antonio. As in most large cities, populations are growing and newer, bigger, expanded roadways are needed.
I knew it made Steve a bit crazy when we would drive past the beginnings of an expressway flyover, or the addition of a higher tier to a freeway interchange and my questioning would begin…“How they are going to tie this new expansion into the old one? Where will they put the entrance ramp or where the exit ramp take us? Will this road now be three lanes or four? Are they going to make a flyover that will cover that entire neighborhood? Are they going to demolish all those existing buildings to make way for that cloverleaf?” Steve’s reply was always the same, “I have no idea…We will have to wait and see…You ask me these questions every time we drive past this construction. Why do you care???”
The extension project of Wurzbach Parkway began about 9 years ago, at least this was the beginning of the segment of the road that ran right by our neighborhood. This new corridor would create a direct path for us to get from our home, to the airport, to our favorite Mexican food restaurant or to places we frequently shopped. Road construction began and ended in sections. The city would complete one portion, enabling traffic to go from one major intersection to another. Once this part was completed, they would start on the next leg of construction. Each leg of the new parkway brought me more questions, greater curiosity and a weird type of anxiousness. The questions would begin…”I wonder where it will intersect with the crossing street? I wonder what the speed limit will be? I wonder when they will be finished?”
The construction of this particular thoroughfare was far more exciting to me than our major freeway expansions because it was personal, directly affecting many of our daily routes. I knew we would use this super-arterial all the time. How great it would be. It would cut our errand running time in half.
I found I would get impatient with the slow construction. There were weeks when the road was left unattended. I would drive past and think, oh hurry, hurry, hurry, it can’t take this long to build anything. Eventually, the new segment, closest to our home was completed. While we used it often, the next phase of the parkway would be even better, our driving time so much efficient. This leg would involve a flyover, meaning construction would be slower and my questions even more obnoxious.
While I’m sure the parkway expansion was never as big of a deal to Steve as it had been to me, I managed to include Steve in my running commentary every chance I had. I can see him now, shaking his head in crazed wonder that I could be quite so consumed with something so mundanely bizarre.
Steve never saw the completion of the extended parkway and maybe that has something to do with my forthcoming confession.
It was several months after Steve’s death and I was smack dab in the middle of the grieving process. I was in that place where no matter where I was, it was wrong. If I were at home, I needed to get out of the house. If I were away from home, I only wanted to be at home. I was a nomad in my own body, numb to everything around me and yet, oddly still functioning, well kind of.
I remember it being a warm, sunny Sunday afternoon. I was feeling nomad-ish, so I got in my car and took off. Noticing a passing street sign, I snapped out of my foggy state. Had my eyes actually seen what I thought they had, a new large green street sign pointing to the completion of the new parkway? Jumpin' Jehosophat! My adrenaline started pumping. I made a u-turn to take another look. Oh, my yellow brick road! My completed parkway! The concrete seemed to gleam in the sunshine beckoning me to explore first hand, this new passageway, complete with flyover.
I paused for a moment before beginning my excursion. You see, there was still a smallish barricade barring the entrance, but it wasn’t very wide and there seemed ample room for vehicles to skirt around them. I hesitated. I looked as far as my eye could see, the road appeared completely finished. I was sure it was ready for traffic. The city probably just needed to paint some lane stripes, maybe put up some street lamps or speed limit signs, but this road was ready for travel, and I wanted nothing more than to take the maiden voyage back to my house.
I knew if Steve had been by my side, he would have thrown a conniption fit, laid down in the middle of the street and would have forbidden me from even thinking about driving beyond the smallish barricade. Steve wasn’t with me, and perhaps that’s why this is now a story.
Remember, it was a Sunday afternoon, thus, very little traffic. Seeing no one nearby, I turned on to the majestic new parkway. It was perfect, four wide lanes of brand new smooth sailing. Smiling as I drove, wind in my hair, I was halfway into the flyover when…BAM! My four-door sedan bottomed out. There was a sickening scraping sound, my head hit the roof of my car and my teeth collided. Uh oh, so this was why those barricades were up. They had yet to finish paving about five top layers of the flyover, oops. Slowly I inched forward to see if my tires were still on my car. I could move. I looked sheepishly around me…thankfully, no one was in sight. I bumped along the partially finished road, until I found the first place I could exit.. Once home, I examined my tires, they seemed okay. I sort of halfway crawled under my car, but it was pretty dark down there and besides, I hadn’t a clue what I was looking for. Crawling out, I determined, no harm had been done and vowed never to tell a soul. Oh well, such is life!
Several weeks later, I’d forgotten about my misadventure (remember I was still in my grief fog), when I noticed my tire pressure light. Not thinking much of it, I drove to Discount Tire. By the time I arrived my tire was on the rim. So, so flat. After a quick examination, the young attendant told me not one, but all four of my tires were incredibly, irrevocably damaged. Checking his computer, he was surprised to see we had purchased all new tires the first of the year. Looking at me rather quizzically, he asked if I just might have driven over a pothole lately? Great, my secret misadventure was about to become costly. I sheepishly admitted, in detail, what I had done. This young man’s eyes widened, “Wow lady, that musta been some kind of crazy ride!” Perfect, just perfect…
I hadn’t thought of that escapade, until driving home from running errands today. I wondered if I would still make such an irrational, okay stupid, decision as I had that Sunday afternoon? I would like to think I have come a long way from those grief laden, foggy days.
My life is much like a road under construction. I am a long way from completion and the direction of my pathways often seem circuitous. I wonder where this turn in my road will take me? I’m often baffled by the tangled events of my life, the cloverleaf of intersecting lanes that, at times, seem to have no exit. I grow impatient with my time spent under construction, with my bumpy roads, my detours and barriers.
My questions grow wearisome. Am I on the right path, or should I be making a detour at this junction? What must be removed or paved over for my construction to continue? I’m curious to know where this path might lead, or how this lane might tie in to a new lane. So many questions, so few answers.
The good news is that I need not know the answers to all of my many questions concerning the construction of my life. My trust lies in the fact that I believe in a loving God who makes my paths straight. A God, who mercifully fills in my deepest potholes and who gently shows me how to follow His direction, His meaning, His purpose. I’m grateful God allows me choices and challenges while I’m under construction and my blessings come when I find the joy there is in discovering opportunity and shared experiences along life’s highway.
I know there will be many more times in life when I choose to ignore the barricades God has wisely and carefully put in place. I'm certain I will travel carelessly where I shouldn’t and I will, more than likely, scrape bottom every once in a while. Thankfully, my assurance allows construction to continue, for my confidence is in the promise that God is true to His word. He is the Master Engineer and in His time, He will make all the provisions to build a road that will take me safely home.
For what its worth,
Proverbs 3:6 “In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight.”