I didn't get to choose my apartment. My employers picked and paid for it year ago, and it's been inhabited by foreign English teachers ever since. The walls are thick with layers or poorly applied wallpaper. The windows and doors are misaligned so as to allow wind, cold, and flies in. There are scrapes, stains, and sticky tack left on the walls by more than 3 generations of English teachers. I've made the best of my home and I've appreciated the dumpy chic of the place since I first stepped in the door, but now that summer's heat has arrived and the fruit flies have moved in, I think it's time for a vent post.
The Rat Who Hangs Out In My Walls
I haven't heard much of him lately, but during the colder months I began to notice scratching and skittering behind these layers of wallpaper. Munching and crunching and disease carrying. I'd heard rats before when I lived in my family's basement for a while, and the same horror I had in Atlanta flooded my body as I lay in bed and waited for the rat to break through and fall into my room.
In February, one of my girlfriends asked if she could spend the night at my place when the last bus home left without her. I was delighted to be able to help and quickly agreed. When I introduced her to my apartment, I suddenly felt ashamed by the grime and general unkempt-ness that greeted us. Throughout the evening, I started to feel less embarrassed and more connected to this place and appreciative of its quirks. When we were laying in bed and I heard the rat, I felt a strange protectiveness for him...
"Other people may think you're gross, Rat, but we're friends, aren't we? You can stay in my walls for as long as you want. Your scritches won't even freak me out this time. Good night, buddy. Stay warm. xo"
The Cockroach I Haven't Killed
I hate cockroaches. The little fella in Wall-E was super cute, but the cockroaches in my life have always been quick, sneaky, slimy-looking, and gross. I would rather them all die. But, when I saw one of these foul creatures slithering across my bathroom floor, I ran away. I've accepted that I'd rather let him live and do his own thing than to get close enough to try and kill him. Besides, if I miss when I try to kill him, he'll move around all fast and ugly and possibly climb up my leg. That's definitely not happening. I'd prefer to coexist.
The Creepy Bug That I Apologized To
I just ran a Google image search for "really creepy bug," and the first 3 pictures were exactly what I needed. This fella is a house centipede, and he is the worst of them all. In my mind, he's right up there with silver fish for absolutely disgusting creatures who need to never show their faces to humans.
|Image via the Iowa State University Horticulture & Home Pest News|
These guys are kept as pets in Japan, but I hate their guts.
When I saw one in my room just 20 minutes ago, I knew what had to be done. I ran to the front door where we keep our shoes and picked up my sandal. The last sight I had of the bug, it was sneaking behind my jacket on its wall hook. I knew that if the bug made it behind the jacket, it could move behind any of the bags, scarves, and even the bookcase and wardrobe nearby without being seen. I rushed in with my sandal and didn't see the bug. I gingerly pulled the jacket away from the wall and shook it. The bug dropped to the floor, and my whole being went into action. It was now or never. Kill or be freaked out all night.
I went in for the strike and yelled, "You're disgusting!" In the same breath, though, I also yelled, "Sorry!"
I was in a rush of adrenaline and my mind was extremely focused, but I felt the need to apologize. Why? I'm still not positive, but I think I was more sorry for insulting it than for killing it.
What creatures can you absolutely not live with? My mom tells stories of the scorpions in Texas and my friends who've lived in third world countries got huge spiders in the outhouses. They make me feel like I have it easy. You?