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Adam's Witness

This is what happens when you start writing romance novels.

You see romance everywhere. Even where it maybe isn't.

This column originally ran in The Saskatoon Express a few weeks ago. Life is turning into fiction.

Query to city hall: how do I get home?

Life is a detour. I'm gonna drive it, all summer long.

- With apologies to Tom Cochrane

It's a hot day. I mean, it is steaming. I'm in the north end - here at the Express, actually. I have an appointment at Vanishing Point, a framery on Lorne Avenue and Taylor Street. I am running late.

Quick digression: in my younger years, I was never late. Never. Ever ever ever. Now, I'm always running late. What's up with that? Old brain cells can't keep up with the relentless tick-tock of the clock?

Anyway, I hit Millar Avenue, head down Warman, scoot through downtown and over the freeway. I get to Fifth Avenue, and instead of sailing through, urrrrch. A very large piece of machinery is grinding away in the middle of the intersection. It wasn't there the day before. At least, I'm pretty sure it wasn't. Old brain cells, you know.

I take the detour, make a loop, get to my destination two minutes late. Not bad, yes?

I have another date after this one. Dinner, back downtown, with family members who are passing through Saskatoon. On the way home, I don't want to do the detour again. I stamp my foot. I try another route.

Right. Using that ill-considered plan, I can't get across Taylor, down Lorne, up Victoria, down Fourth Avenue or Fifth Avenue in Buena Vista, aka BV. In my father's language, I am forced to dipsy-doodle all the way, turning and twisting to avoid closed streets. I get home, utterly confused about where I've been.

What is happening, here, is that the city has dug up half of BV, in an effort to replace water and sewer lines and I assume beautifully and smoothly pave the streets over once the digging and replacing is all done.

I don't live in BV, but I'm in and out of that very-nearby neighbourhood constantly; and it is my speedy conduit to the freeway and downtown. Well, it was.

Now, I greatly appreciate that the city is trying to fix wholesale the water and sewer lines on a street by street, and neighbourhood by neighbourhood, basis. It absolutely makes a heck of a lot more sense than trying to nip off a house here and a house there, which has been happening for years.

Meanwhile, though, getting around is detour hell. I'm always wondering where the heck the good people of Buena Vista are parking, how they get to the other side of the street, and if they ever, indeed, have company. Assuming they can get home at all.

I got a partial answer to that on Sunday, when my husband and I took a leisurely stroll through the tree-lined neighbourhood. It was, again, hot; I wanted shade, so BV was a better choice than, say, Avalon or Queen Elizabeth, where there is no significant tree canopy.

We make it to Fifth Street, somehow, and halfway down the block we see two people sitting on the boulevard lawn. They are separated by a red construction fence.

My fevered imagination - I mean, it's 32 degrees and humid - starts churning. They look like star-crossed lovers; the woman has her fingers curled through the gaps in the fence, as if reaching for the man seated on the other side, half-facing her. I wonder if they will share a kiss through the grille.

The street has gaping holes in it. He has traversed the obstacle course (mountains of dirt! valleys so low!) to be with this woman, although they are divided by the impassable barrier. Ohhh. How romantic is that?

The woman looks up as we go by, and smiles. We smile back, and say hello. A conversation starts up. She tells us it's hard to get across the street, since it's blocked off for, well, blocks. So the two neighbours meet at the fence, perhaps during a pause in yardwork, and talk through it. They will be doing so, she says, for another month.

So much for my Romeo and Juliet scenario. I have to stop reading those guilty pleasure romance novels in the summertime - they are skewing my appreciation for reality - and get back to literature. (Oh, wait. Romeo and Juliet is, in fact, Shakespeare. Never mind. Even the greats wrote about love.) But hey - this is love thy neighbour kind of stuff, right? And if they wanted to get together for dinner, let's say, one or the other would have to walk around three blocks or so to get to the other's house. It's really quite weird.

It's hard to blame the city, of course. Doing their best, don't you know. But if this ever happens in my general area, I hope to get several weeks' notice. That should give me time to stock up on romance novels and skip town.

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