After having lived in Florida for 40 years, I have much to be traumatized about, believe you me. Hurricanes, scorpions, rising sea levels, gun-toting vigilantes, insane politicians, free-ranging pet boa constrictors, rampant conservatism… you name it, Florida’s got it. But as is often the case, it took leaving my toxic environment to discover just how seriously it had affected me.
Even though I’ve been in the Seattle area for a year and a half now, and know that I could leave my door wide open 24 hours a day and nary a harmful bug would enter, I still have residual anxiety from my Southern roots. There, you have a constant battle with disease-laden, gravity-defying, hyper-multiplying, two inch long, DISGUSTING cockroaches. They crawl over your bed while you sleep. They get in your hair. You can’t leave any food out, even for a minute. It really freaks me out when they run across the dashboard while I’m driving down the interstate. I’ve even had them scurry into the shower with me when I’m all naked and vulnerable. Shudder. I have no doubt that there are at least a thousand cockroaches for every human in that state. It almost feels as though these creepy creatures have invaded my brain.
Although my rational mind knows that the odds are very good that I’m not going to see one of these things crawling across my pizza ever again, I still am terrorized by them at least once a week. One of my dogs tracks in a dead brown leaf and I see it out of the corner of my eye and nearly jump out of my skin. The brown hair that I slid to the side to unblock the tub drain but forgot to dispose of makes me shriek like a little girl.
You’d think I’d have this all figured out by now, but it seems to be a gut reaction that is ingrained in my very soul. I’m calling this syndrome “Posttraumatic Roach Reaction Disorder”, or PTRRD. It’s debilitating and pervasive. I need medication.
So, imagine my horror when I discovered that these bugs are so novel here that they have their very own display, complete with a domestic straw broom to scuttle over, at Seattle’s Woodland Park Zoo. I watched the locals gaze at them and say, “Ewwww… gross.” and I wanted to scream, “You people have no idea what a dangerous game you’re playing!!!” If even two of those things get out, this city will be up to its ears in roach droppings by sundown.
I can’t even drive past that zoo now without feeling something creeping across that place on my back that I can’t reach. Forgive them. They know not what they do.
I think I need a hug.