Unfortunately, I won’t be the only living thing in the place for the next couple of weeks, because, to update you on my post of few weeks ago (Bed Bugs and Scabies and Crabs, Oh My!), it has turned out that I actually have a bed bug infestation.
The spray is what made this go on so long. It also kills bed bugs, just not all of them and not where they live, so each time I re-treated my purported scabies, I fended off the bed bugs for a couple of weeks, and it was only recently, after all this time that I finally saw one.
Slowly waking up one morning, I happened to glance over and see the little insect crawling on my hand. Revolted, my knee-jerk reaction was to jerk my hand away, shake it off, but then I realized I had to catch it, to obtain proof, for my landlord, for an exterminator, although somehow I knew exactly what it was.
As I scrambled to grab in a tissue, it burst open with my blood (Happy Halloween, you guys!!!) as a combination gesture of “Yes, I’m a bed bug, this is what we do,” and “Fuck you! Where’s your evidence now, biatch?”
Horrified as I was to confront this disgusting critter and the subsequent extermination process (even more involved than what I had just mistakenly gone through for scabies), it was at least comforting to know that my itching wasn’t psychosomatic and that the concrete problem I was dealing was now solvable — I now knew my enemy.
I decided to do nothing, to wait it out, and deal with the problem after my roommate was gone. I felt bad not telling her, but then we had discussed my itching for months and she, not suffering, hadn’t even bothered to get a scabies treatment. And frankly, she was such a slob that I just couldn’t imagine any way for her to get her stuff organized enough to successfully treat an infestation. So I gritted my teeth, thinking I’d made it this long, and decided to wait two weeks for her to move out before I get an exterminator in to bomb the place.
My parents had generously offered to pay for a professional cleaning crew to come in before the exterminator comes in to go postal on my place after my roommate left, and the vision of that transformation has kept me going. Surviving these last two weeks of walking through my roommate’s filth, knowing that little bugs were sucking my blood in my sleep, was a triumph of will.
As I counted down the days until my roommate moved, I soothed myself to sleep every night planning and dreaming about my apartment and how nice and clean I was going to make it and how I want to set it up, what I want to buy, when and where, etc.
Last Friday, when my roommate surprised me by moving out two days early, I jumped at the chance to book a cleaning crew ASAP. Youdirtyitwepurdyit seemed like the best company online and I booked a two-man team for Sunday, November 1st.
The owner of the cleaning company had guesstimated 3-5 hours, but when Sam and Orvil arrived at my apartment, I believe they called the office to free up their schedules.
I should say they texted the office because Sam and Orvil are deaf, or severely hearing-impaired. I had been warned about this when I made the appointment (“It’s weird, but worse hearing = better cleaning,” I was told), but when they walked in, I suddenly felt like an idiot.
I remembered the boozehounds who moved me into this apartment and how their English and their driving got worse as they got drunker, their whiskey breath and sweat making we want to throw away everything they touched. And I thought of the one other time I had someone else clean this place, also when I first moved in, when I’d hired a maid for the day to freshen the place up. She had used some weird vinegar solution and I sprayed everything she’d cleaned with Fantastick immediately after she left.
Uh-oh, here was that vinegar smell again.
But, then wouldn’t you know it? Orvil and Sam and I communicated just fine, filling a legal pad with short notes.
“It’s pretty bad, right?”
“I hope you guys are okay for time…”
“Uch, this is the worst part, can you get all that off of there?”
All they said was, “Yeah” (and occasionally, “Do you have more garbage bags?”) as they opened up a can of whoop-ass and a keg of elbow grease on my apartment.
I had planned to flit about one room ahead of or behind them, so that I could move my bed into what would be my new bedroom, my clothes into the room for new closet, etc. But of course the kitchen and bathroom took a million times longer than anything else.
God, I wished I had planned the day better. I could have been painting my new bedroom while I waited for them in the next room, if I’d bought paint. I could have been installing my closet fixtures, if I’d borrowed drill. But I hadn’t.
As I saw the futility of their scrubbing the kitchen floor, I realized I should have gotten rid of it (after three years of this roommate and her cat, the old floor below is clearly in better shape – I know this from the square foot somehow missing from the middle of top layer.)
Orvil and Sam worked so hard for so long and that major feature still looks almost as bad as it had the day before. But it wasn’t the same. It is clean, it’s just stained and it will have to do until I get a new one, as I organize my renovation plans for the next couple of months.
After the guys left (and after Sam texted me to let me know he’d forgotten his hearing aid – he said he’d come get it the next day… he was exhausted!), I walked around straightening up little things, washing the few dishes I have left after years of my roommate breaking them or rendering them undesirable, after years of eating only out or take-out or delivery and not needing any dishes. I smiled at the pristine rows of white and red wine glasses glimmering on the atelier. They were the one dishes I did use these last three years and I always kept them safe in my room.
Now, these rooms are all mine, and I will keep them all the way I like them.
After the cleaning, I went to bed my new bedroom, so small and sparse — just my bed, two nightstands and a blank spot on the wall, where my second TV will go when I buy it. It felt strange without any of my things hanging on the walls, or even any paint, but it felt mine, like a blank page or canvas (whoot, whoot).
I fell asleep at peace and slept like a baby, in this cozy little place away from the street-noise of my old room (now living room).
When I woke up this morning, so refreshed, I saw my second bed bug, a little red one, like lady bug who just happens to feed on me. I named her Sookie after Anna Paquin’s character on “True Blood,” who while not actually a vampire, is cute like the little red bug I carefully saved in a piece of tape.
I wasn’t scared or even grossed out. Perfectly calm, I went about my morning, walking barefoot across my kitchen floor, and reminded myself to confirm that exterminator appointment.
This is my home and I can handle anything.