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The Fog of Construction

Living Room: Mid-construction

I visited Kuwait, briefly, in 2006 and the entire place felt as if it were immersed in a dust storm. I couldn’t see clearly more than ten feet in any direction because of sand motes suspended in the air. On top of this there was a sharp, dry smell, as if from distant fires. I sensed that the place had seen terrible destruction. My home feels a little like that right now.

As I write this I’m sitting at a dust-coated desk, in my dust-filled bedroom, brushing dust off my keyboard, and breathing dust into my lungs. I’m perpetually brushing my clothes and rinsing my hands, unable to feel that they’re clean.

Contrary to what I expected, demolition was not the dirtiest stage of the remodel. Demolition produced debris that could be piled up, bagged, and left at the curb. It’s the final woodwork, plasterwork, and sanding that has been more difficult to control. They release a fine dust that clings to every surface and makes it difficult to see from one end of a room the other. Just as my remodel is reaching completion, I’m enveloped in a blinding construction fog.

The construction workers have been careful about keeping my furniture covered, sealing off my closets with blue tape, and cleaning the site periodically. But there might not be no escape from this fine dust, which finds its way behind doors and drop-cloths, into cabinets and storage bins.

I’m not a fastidious housekeeper. The ceiling-high piles of debris in my living room after demolition didn’t bother me so much. Nor do the footprints on my carpets or the wear on my floors. But this construction dust is disconcerting because there seems to be no escape from it. Looking back, I should have sealed off all the floors, furniture, and closets in my apartment very carefully before construction began. It would have saved me some worry and a whole lot of cleaning.

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