T is for trauma

I’m busy. I’m the kind of busy that doesn’t go to the grocery store or feed her husband. I’m the kind of busy that wishes her car could transcribe speech and print it out of the CD deck. What I’m getting at here is that I’m the kind of busy that has no business taking time out of the day to blog. But this is an Extreme Circumstance.

To give you some background, I’d like to review a few things, namely that I’m from Texas. For those of you who haven’t had the distinct pleasure of visiting that country, let me give you a quick overview. It’s big. The people are obsessed with it. It gets really hot in the summertime and sometimes it also gets hot in the winter time. There’s no such thing as snow, no such thing as seasons, really. And while that leaves a lot of people scratching their heads about why anyone would spend any more time than absolutely necessary there, the truth is that Texas is a hell of a place. Friendliest people on the plant, diverse culture– and by that I mean not a single black person, but lots of lots of Mexicans– and delicious food. Considering its size, I find it absurd when people say they hate Texas. It’s like people who say they hate seafood. Really? You tried everything under the ocean and not of it was for you? Fine. I don’t like beverages.

I genuinely love being Texan. I plan to send my children to Texas in the summers to spend time with their grandparents on the farm. They’ll attend summer camp for a few weeks and then go stay with “Gemmie” and “Farmer” (my grandparent names I’ve given them) and learn all about… I’m not sure. But it will be something good. At the very least it will give them a sense of space. Something they won’t find back home since ┬átheir parents have stacked them three high in a bedroom that’s actually more of an office.

But I live in Massachusetts. I actually live in Boston. I would never say I live in Massachusetts because for the most part I think it’s a stinker of a state, but the Boston part is pretty dandy. I’ll probably never live in Texas again; truthfully it’s unlikely I’ll ever leave the right side of the country, but it’s not because of the heat or the culture. It’s certainly not because of the food. It’s because I hate bugs. More pointedly, I’m phobic of bugs. I will never go on Fear Factor. If my life (or, to be honest, anyone else’s) depended on me sitting in a small room with a roach or grasshopper I’d have blood on my hands. The technical parameters of “bugness” are a little blurred, but I include anything that doesn’t have a face I can relate to in some way. Slugs. Snails. Roaches. Beetles. Crickets. Centipedes. Flies. Spiders.

I will hang out with a rat and all his rat friends til the cows come home, but find a daddy longleg and I’ll move to the nearest hotel. Texas has bugs EVERYWHERE. Let me say that again. Texas has bugs EVERYWHERE. Clean people have roaches that sometimes live in their trashcans and pop up to say hello. Sometimes roaches like to burrow in the dark moist toe of a shoe, something you won’t discover until the shoe is on your foot. Anyone familiar with June bugs? I have apocalyptic dreams about trying to ring someone’s doorbell but instead being pelted to death by the errant flight patterns of these beetles. I dreaded trick or treating. It combined two of my very least favorite things: being scared and going near people’s doorways. The moths swarming the porch lights, the June bugs… AHHH!

But here in the civilized city of Boston, bugs don’t come around. It’s too cold for roaches (I hear), which is strange because I have it on good authority that the only thing surviving the end of times is bunch of roaches huddled in a Twinkie box. (Which I’m also afraid of.) And truthfully I don’t know where all the other bugs are, but I haven’t seen them so I assume they don’t exist. I’ve gotten so used to this bug-free life that I find it hard to go visit my mom sometimes. I find it hard to go visit anyone, really.

The way it plays out is generally some variation on the following: a bug is sited by myself or someone else in my proximity. After I am made aware I either take action to have said bug killed AND FLUSHED or panic and leave. That may include leaving semi-permanently. Like the time I checked into a hotel after losing a roach under my bed while living in Manhattan. No fucking way was I going to stick around for his late night reappearance. In the brief moments I allowed myself to slip into contemplation I imagined him crawling the length of my body, meeting up with his lover somewhere around my navel, and laying eggs that would later hatch. One day I’d look down to see millions of roaches streaming from my waist. I just dry heaved. Okay, it wasn’t completely dry. I need to move on.

You remember Stuart, right? The only other inhabitant of 12 Comm. As a pet, I’m not certain how Stuart fares, but as a soft accessory, he is perfect. He never wakes us up in the morning by crying or begging for food. He respects everyone’s right to sleep when and where they want to. All he asks in return is that we do the same. And we do.

So imagine my surprise when I am awoken in the wee hours of the morning by a frantically meowing Stuart. He is pacing in circles. On my face. And pushing his paws in my eyelids as if to say, “open them or ye shall feel them be opened.” I have no idea how long this went on, but when I finally woke, it was because I heard a loud noise. Stuart had begun pulling the GIANT picture frame above our bed away from the wall. As it slammed against the concrete wall it created quite the sound. As well as giving the distinct impression it was going to come off the wall and onto our sleeping faces.

BAM. MEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOWWWWWW. BAM BAM BAM. MEOW MEOW MEOW. BAM! BAM!

That’s when it came into focus. That’s when I realized that Stuart was my Lassie. He was trying to get me out of the burning house before the rafter trapped me. There was something crawling on the wall. I sat up so fast I knocked Stuart off the bed. He managed to get back up and continue stretching towards the bug, trying to get it with his cloudpuff of a paw. He may as well have been waving an invisible feather. I flicked on the light and started shaking the hubs. I’d checked my phone and knew he was up late, but it didn’t matter.

Sidenote: It’s in moments like these I actively relinquish all claims to feminism.I don’t care if I’m the lesser sex. I don’t care if I don’t get paid equal wages. WAKE UP AND GET THIS MOTHER FUCKING BUG OFF THE WALL NOW.

In his stupor, the hubs seemed to believe this was an observation exercise. He looked up, acknowledged the bug, and rolled back over.

Cue screaming.

Cue husband lift arm to get a tissue. (Admittedly, I flinched. I know he’d never hit me, but the moment was intense. And he was tired.)

He missed.

I almost died. Clutching Stuart to my breast I insisted that the hubs remove the picture and find the bug.

Cue the “are you fucking serious” glance.

Cue my “move the fucking picture frame or face a lifetime of sadness and turmoil” face.

As the picture was removed, the bug flashed across the wall. The hub’s lightning reflex caught it. (For some reason I immediately imagined him opening his fingers to check, only to have the bug leap from his fingers and up his nose and into his brain. Where it would occupy and multiply. And he would die.)

And then he threw it in the trash.

Cue screaming.

ARE YOU SERIOUS?! YOU HAVE TO FLUSH IT. EVERYONE KNOWS YOU HAVE TO FLUSH IT! IT WILL COME BACK! YOU’RE GOING TO DIE! GET IT OUT OF THE TRASH CAN! ITS DEAD BODY MAY STILL BE ABLE TO REPRODUCE! WHAT IF THE FAMILY COMES FOR THE BODY?

I was a broken shell. In my weakness I Googled the bug. That was it. I was never going to sleep again. As I read through the list of attributes and environments I slowly lost my mind.

Can live in pillows. I immediately threw the majority of our bedding to the floor and tucked my legs under me. (This is when the phantom crawling started. I could feel them everywhere.)

Then I started seeing them.

Like cereal. The bile began to creep up. My favorite food. I’d brought this plague upon my house through reckless passion. My addiction to slightly sweet carbohydrates had made my home uninhabitable. What about the box in the kitchen? Had he been there? Had my cereal been compromised?

By that point I had turned the hubs into a sleeping human raft. I perched on his back, still clutching Stuart. As he slept I imagined all the dark corners, all the pillows, all the “forgotten crevices.” I considered getting up, but in my mind they’d already covered the floor. So I started looking at real estate listings on Craiglist.

Stuart and I floated there on the sea of uncertainty. Like Jack and Rose we clung to our only salvation. A sliver of board (man) that kept us from being consumed by urban centipedes.

And we waited for morning.