Until I moved to this island, I had never in my life seen a cockroach. My experience with bugs was very limited. There aren’t many bugs in New England, its too damn cold most of the time. And indoor bugs? Forget it! My mother ran too tight a ship for that. In childhood, my 4 siblings and I had somewhat of a Von Trapp like existence (before Frauline Maria showed up) of complete discipline and an unwavering schedule. After school each day we would clean the house from top to bottom- dust, sweep, polish, vacuum, fold laundry, etc, except on weekends, when we would be roused out of bed early to do the “real cleaning.” This included removing all the cushions from the sofa to vacuum them individually, waxing the floors, and saying whenever prompted, “We love you, Miss Hannigan!” Ha ha- okay, not the last part, but the point is, even in the height of summer an insect would never dare to put its little toe on any of my mother’s immaculately cleaned surfaces.
This upbringing left we woefully unprepared for life in the tropics. Of course, nothing really prepares you for the sight of your husband chasing a flying cockroach, that’s right, a FLYING cockroach around your living room armed with only a swiffer sweeper and an industrial stapler. From the study, I could hear the ping ping of staples going into the wall. “What are you trying to do?” I yelled, “mount it to the wall?”
“I’ve got 3 staples in it already” he yelled back, “But it just won’t die!” We strategized, decided the roach must be staple-proof, and my husband went back to trying to beat it to death with the swiffer sweeper. This too proved inadequate. The roach continued to flutter about our curtains, mocking us, full of staples but not at all inhibited, until we busted out the secret weapon: a sticky pest trap. Yea, that’s right. We peeled the trap open and lobbed it at the curtain, (custard pie to the face style, yo) immobilizing the roach once and for all. Victory was ours! Man it was hard to peel that sucker off the curtain, and the gauzy white chiffon will never be the same again, but the winged menace was put down once and for all.
Where were my darling little baby girl twins during all this commotion? Blissfully asleep in the bedroom, oblivious to it all. Of course, they’ll probably grow up thinking that flying cockroaches are no big deal, nor are foot long centipedes, or the crunch crunch sound your cat makes eating a lizard- all humdrum stuff to folks around here. It takes a lot to faze the locals on this island. Insane is the new normal.
“How often are there earthquakes?” I asked when I first arrived. The question was returned with a funny look. “What do you mean? They never stop.”
“Can we look at houses not so near volcanos?” I asked my realtor.
“But the whole island is a volcano,” she responded.
So you compromise. You buy sticky traps. You buy less cat food. You buy a house, but avoid the active lava flows. You tell your babies that all of this is normal, because for them it is normal, and that’s a beautiful thing.