The thing about getting bed bugs for a second time is that it puts your life in a rather harsh perspective.
Who gets bed bugs twice? my friend Joy asked, over meatballs and mac and cheese a little white wine (well, wine for me, growing baby for her).
The first time I got them I was living in an apartment with three other girls. They were concentrated in a room a just up the hall and off to the side. So I was mostly safe from their reach, wasn’t bit more than two or three times. But the thing about dealing with them—which is to say, attempting to eradicate them—which is to say, attempting to decimate the little blood-sucking disaster of a bug by any means possible—is whether you have a wee of case or not, you have to package everything up into plastic bags. And then you have to live out of said plastic bags for like six weeks.
It’s miserable. The whole ordeal is absolutely miserable.
They don’t pose a huge threat to your physical health. If you google at all, that becomes clear.
But last go round they precipitated a nasty case of the blues (which google makes clear is quite common).
So this go round, I braced myself. Kept my eyes on the horizon and watched as the sadness approached.
And for about a week there, I didn’t think it would end well. Not well at all.
You’re meant to be able to see the things, the bugs—they are meant to leave some trace. You’re supposed to be able to find them hiding in seams, spot their tracks (which is a nice way of saying blood and feces) on your clean, white linen sheets.
But this go round they remained invisible to me.
Which made me feel crazy.
Because the only evidence of their nightly terror was the welts my body bore.
And I am, as it turns out, highly—highly—allergic (this is of interest because not everyone is).
Seventeen bites I awoke to one morning. After spending the night on an air mattress on the living room floor.
As a species we’ve evolved to protect our sleep. So much of what we’ve done over the past two hundred thousand years is to figure out how to sleep more safely. Mostly because sleep—good sleep, restful sleep—is incredibly important for cognitive function, and health, and most other good things.
Two months into a new apartment and there are plastic bags everywhere. Some clear. Some not. (Which feels like a metaphor for my life).
Every morning is a so-not-fun-treasure-hunt for what I will need to get through the day.
The thing about bed bugs—the upside, if you will, is that you become rather ruthless about sorting through all your stuff (even more ruthless than when you move). And having just moved, I know this with a high level of certainty.
It is not lost on me that my new year’s resolution was to live with less stuff.
Ah, the irony.
Because here I am, knee-deep into the new year and wouldn’t you know, less stuff.
Suddenly the clothes that don’t fit are in a trash bag in the entry hall. The suitcase with the busted wheels is out the door. And all those fancy-glossy-pacific-northwest-isnpired-magazines that I’ve been keeping because I thought they’d sit so well in that one-day-home—gone, tossed.
Live with less stuff. Or live where you are. Imperfect as it is.
But holy shit is it imperfect.
And I’m really trying to be okay with it. To hook into that notion that all this mess is in service of a something else. And that wrong turns are better than right turns and on and on. But some days it’s so hard.
Because people can be shitty. And selfish. And unkind. And totally not great on every level. But you can’t change that. You can only change how you react to it. Which is hard, and a little unfair, but more rewarding in the end (or so I’m told—and so I’ve occasionally found to be true).
I’m trying to rise above, but today, well, today I don’t feel like rising.
Because there’s a lot of garbage bags around, and what’s worth saving and what’s worth tossing isn’t terribly clear.
**Also currently accepting reasons to move someplace else...like Chicago (because as my cousin said, New York is totally rejecting me--who get's beg bugs twice, indeed?!)**