On Sunday, the exterminators came, and with them, spring and hope and sunshine and the vigor of youth and the wisdom of extreme old age.
I’ve been very proud of myself during this whole ordeal for not crying once. (Now that I’ve said that, expect buckets of tears.) Various friends have pointed out that I seem almost cheerful, which is odd, given our situation right now. I have a few theories as to why I’m relatively OK:
1. I’ve been getting a lot of exercise. Yesterday, I looked at my desk-bike thingie and thought, Oh, the plague is here. I don’t have to exercise. Then I remembered that I actually like exercise and that it helps my mood and makes me feel better about things that are beyond my control, like bedbugs and the existence of the Koch Bros. (Family corporate motto: “Koch Bros.: We actually do own your soul. No, really; look it up. We bought it on Tuesday, and it was cheeeeap.”)
2. Chocolate chip cookies still exist. We don’t have any right now, because of all the laundry-doing, but I did buy fixins, and I’m going to make a gigantic batch this week, at some point. This is in keeping with my theory that I can eat whatever I want, as long as I make it from a lot of ingredients using many bowls and spoons and measuring cups.
3. It could be way, way, way worse.
If you’ll forgive another list in an article that’s basically already a list, here’s a bunch of things that could be worse:
1. We could be really sick. I’m part Eastern European and part Ulster Scot, so I’m forbidden from mentioning possible disorders, lest we catch them by displeasing the fairy folk or the gods or what-have-you, but bedbugs are not the most horrible thing that can happen to a person’s body. Let’s just leave it at that.
2. Cockroaches are way worse, from a public health perspective. They don’t bite you, but they carry disease and lovingly lave it all over your food and underpants with their horrid little tongues and sticky feet. (I don’t know about the tongues, but the exterminator told me all about roaches’ feet. They are sticky. Sticky. Isn’t that awful? Sticky feet. Ugh.)
3. There could suddenly be no such thing as music, for some reason. I don’t know why. Maybe unhappy fairy folk, from above? Anyway, I’ve listened to “Happy,” by Pharrell Williams, about 100 times since all this began. AND I AM NOT SORRY.
4. We could be homeless. There was a bad moment during our last search when I realized that it is totally possible for a nice person from a nice family and a nice background to wind up living under a bridge in our society. Which of course made me think about how odd it is that “nice” (read: middle class, not necessarily through any actions or inherent good qualities of our own) would matter in that calculation, even for a minute, even in my own head. Some people have nothing, is the bottom line. We’re not among them, and for that I’m everlastingly grateful. We have friends and family and see evidence of human kindness every day. We are among the luckiest people in the world, and I try to remember that.
5. We love each other. The exterminator told us that he’s seen couples get divorced over bedbugs. People scream at each other, in front of the strangers who’ve come to help. I would literally eat my own head from the inside-out, like one of those flip cartoons on a loop, before I would embarrass Adam in front of another person, if I could prevent it at all, and I know he feels the same.
So while Chris Rock was right — “If you’ve never contemplated murder, you ain’t been in love” — it’s also true that if you can’t be respectful to your person in public and private, you’re not ready to have a functional relationship. I don’t take any credit for this, by the way. Again, it’s luck: we met each other once we’d been through enough stuff to know the value of our connection, and to band together in times of stress instead of tearing each other down.
Anyway. That’s a lot to be to be grateful for. Eventually, we’ll be done washing things and freaking out every time we see a piece of lint, and that will be an embarrassment of riches, to be sure.
Image: Wikimedia Commons