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Life

Places I’ve Lived: A Review. Volume 1: Bugs.

05.26.07 | 2 Comments

In my adult life so far, essentially I have lived in five different places. (For my discussion of places I’ve lived, I’m counting Salamanca, Spain even though it was a short time, since I got acclimated and received mail there.) Somehow this has necessitated ten different moves, not counting Spain, but I suppose college pads that number (dorm, apartment, and house).

This most recent move was accomplished despite my status of something between reluctant and kicking and screaming, so I have tried to work on my perspective and see the pros. Family trumps everything, obviously, so we’re here, but some places have been better than others for various reasons. Today I discuss bugs.

College Station was hot and humid and generally unforgiving, but I do not recall many bug problems. There were mosquitoes and the occasional spider, and those cute little gecko things. I only remember mayflies or, as my sister’s friends from Lufkin called them, mosquito hawks (pronounced muh-SKEET-uh hawks), because of the debate over what they are called, and actually I don’t know if we even had them there.

Monterey was a paradise, free of bugs (and, perhaps to be discussed in another volume, allergies). The place we lived had sat vacant for many months, so there was an initial problem with small spiders and a few ants. Well, and then there were the blasted gophers we battled, with whom we eventually peacefully coexisted and created a lush lawn from holey dirt. I heard they could be vicious; my neighbor clobbered one that she said threatened her four-year-old son using a can of chili while carrying in groceries. (She has what Colbert has taught me to call “Thatchers.”) I digress.

Salamanca was similarly pleasant where bugs were concerned. I do not recall a single bite, even after trekking through the woods in a denim mini and sandals after getting lost in the vicinity of our group’s rendezvous at an actual castle.

Now San Antonio… Central Texas is not for the faint of heart. We lived next to a green belt, too, so that was probably a factor. We had ants, spiders, wasps, flies, the little geckos, the strange swarms of lady bugs, and those few weeks of butterflies plastering the windshield (which I learned was because the bacteria that ate the larvae were not allowed to flourish that year due to climate changes). And then came the scorpions.

Perhaps I should wait until the house sells to disclose this. Only in the past four months or so had I become aware of our cohabitants. One night I was on the phone with my Mom when I realized that Sarge was barking playfully at something on the floor near the front door. I made short work of smashing it to bits before it could sting him on the nose. After that they would appear, mostly in the bathrooms, seemingly out of nowhere. (I’ll leave Joel the option of telling his own story about his first encounter with them.) The last week we were in the house, I found one lying in wait right in the middle of the stairs where I had been walking barefoot, carrying my baby. I thought it was an unfamiliar smudge of mud at first; annoyed yet curious and excited to clean the thing, I inspected it more closely before touching it, thank goodness. For some reason we spared that one, first sucking it up with the Dyson and releasing it into the green belt. Anyway, maybe it was the bats, birds, or something else, but I never did get a mosquito bite during our nearly 3 years in San Antonio.

My hometown and current locale: Garland. In the past, Texas-typical short, mild winters have meant scenarios such as scourges of crickets such that driving down the road you can hear the crunching under your tires. (Mmmm.) These things happen all over, and I consider them eccentricities. Seeing them now I am reminded how growing up the summers meant lightning bugs, one of my fonder memories. But the Dallas area loses this tournament bracket hands down, because with my particular neighborhood’s moist wooded areas, I am being eaten alive by mosquitoes. EATEN ALIVE. These bastards are the relentless, citronella-be-damned sort. San Antonio was heaviest on pests of all kinds, including neighbor children who abuse the door bell, but mosquitoes were not a part of my life there. If only my bitterness repelled them.

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