I remember in elementary school playing a game called What's Grosser than Gross. In my circle of friends, the answers usually involved a rusty nail, or great green globs of greasy, grimy gopher guts, and we'd squeeze our eyes shut and squeal with laughter. Ten-year-olds thrive on gross.
Here's the thing, though: I outgrew the humor of grossness. Call me stuffy, but I just don't think "gross" is funny anymore. Which is probably why I'm struggling to laugh over our current apartment predicament, whereby each day brings me more Grosser than Gross encounters.
What's Grosser than Gross? The smell of an old Motel 6 room.
What's Grosser than That? When that smell is your home.
What's Grosser than Gross? Cleaning yucky bathrooms.
What's Grosser than That? Finding that the underside of a toilet bowl was not sufficiently cleaned from all the previous owner's "dirt" while cleaning the yucky bathroom.
What's Grosser than Gross? Old apartment carpet that feels like greasy hair.
What's Grosser than That? Discovering one morning that the greasy haired carpet was SLIMED by a slug, which then dried up and died on your favorite floor pillow.
And really, the slug thing? We don't know how he get in. I vacuumed up the slug and he rattled around in the cannister as I went about my daily routine of vacuuming the carpet again, hoping that maybe this time my vacuuming will turn the carpet into new carpet. Even now, recalling the slugging, my mind goes blank and my emotions go flat, probably as a self-defense mechanism to keep me sane.
I realize that once I put it all in perspective--we have a place to live that is relatively safe; we are not facing the loss of all our worldly possessions like those in Galveston; we have relatively few worries other than an old, gross apartment--all my complaints seem petty. I'm always telling myself to KEEP IT IN PERSPECTIVE. It could be worse. Much worse. We could have slugs crawling up our bedspread and snuggling beside us while we sleep. And, oh my gosh, I just typed that and my skin broke out in a cold sweat of horror. Perspective.
But when I walked through the apartment door tonight, and was accosted by that musty smell for the 100th time, I answer my inner voice with, "Shut up about perspective, already. My perspective is that I hate this apartment." I admit, I'm the one who picked out this apartment. Sure, it was the only one that we could find available on such short notice after selling our house. Sure, it's in the location we wanted. Sure, we are saving ourselves buckets of money by living in an apartment instead of renting a house. But I'm sensing that all that money we are saving ourselves might have to go back into therapy and medication.
The truth is, and those who have talked with me over the past month have heard me say it, I am not as strong as I think I am. I like to think that I'm not such a needy, snobby princess type. Who needs new carpet? Who needs carport parking? Who needs sunlight in the bedrooms? Who needs a clean toilet? Turns out, I guess I do. It's been a humbling experience, realizing that I'm a touch high maintenance (and Jason kisses me and says, "Oh, sweetums. You've always been high maintenance, and I love you for it").
I would like to be more like my sister, who can make the best out of any living situation. Andrea used to live in an apartment in Florida where the constant presence of teeny tiny ants was such a normal thing for her that she would even eat them in her cereal. Believe or not, when I visited her, I thought, "Maybe I could get use to this. Maybe I too could eat ants in my cereal."
Note to self: ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME? You would sooner end up in the psych ward than eat ants for breakfast. You are forgiven for your outrageous line of thinking because you were 7-months pregnant.
And, so, we are moving. Again. To some place newer, and nicer, and more expensive. A place that has a washer and dryer, windows that receive actual sunlight, rooms that have ceiling lights, carpet on which I will allow my kids to walk barefoot. We'll have to pay the $250 fee for moving out of this apartment early, and we'll have to apologize profusely to our landlord who was so accommodating to get us into a place when we needed it. I do feel bad about that.
The alternative, however, is here. With the slugs. Where at the end of the day, I sit on the couch, unable to muster any amount of emotion--positive or negative--because I've slipped into survival mode. My experiment in living with less has resulted in a great, big, slimed failure which is perhaps a Grosser than Gross character trait.
But what's Grosser than That?
Slugs in my living room.