this post is from The So-Called Real World, a blog from my past lives.
The mosquitoes in my apartment have resorted to psychological warfare. Despite my attempts, I am losing the battle. This may be my last post, it is hard to say – for I am certain that one morning I will not wake up for having been completely devoured by my winged flat-mates. These are not just any insects, they’re a rare breed (hopefully) specific to this area and unlike any I’ve ever come across. They are calculating, sneaky, and manipulative and they are at once driving me crazy and eating me alive.
In Alaska, the mosquitoes are rampant for about two weeks in the summer. I had the pleasure of spending a week in the Prince William Sound during that exact time of year, and got to know them quite well. They’re the size of dragon flies, it is a long-standing joke that they’re the Alaska state bird.
Despite their size and overwhelming numbers, you can trust the Alaskan mosquitoes. You get the sense they’re just flying around waiting for you to stumble into their path. When you do, they bite you through two layers of clothing and let you go on your way. They’re scary as hell, but there is nothing sneaky about them.
In Oregon, they’re tiny but aggressive. Anyone who has moved sprinkler pipes in the summer can tell you that Oregon mosquitoes are a force to be reckoned with. They are unlike their Alaskan cousins in that a swarm of Oregon mosquitoes will smell a human from across a 60 acre field and charge toward her with amazing speed and force. You feel like Winnie the Pooh being chased by the honey bees, and it has led people to do some crazy things (like covering oneself in mud to prevent bites – don’t ask).
I can’t tell for sure, but I imagine they are also highly choreographed. If you remember the scene in “Finding Nemo” where the school of fish is teasing Nemo’s dad you may know what I’m talking about. I think if I were less edible, I would like to stick around to find out more about their capabilities there.
In Montana the mosquitoes, like the people, are sparse. You rarely have to deal with more than a few at a time, and then they are slow and easily swatted (not that the people are slow and easily swatted, some of my favorite people are from Montana and I would never imply such a thing).
In Amsterdam, the mosquitoes are part insect, part demon. I’m not kidding. Somewhere along the evolutionary line one of these pesky bugs mated with Satan himself to produce a mutant line of highly specialized human eating machines, and they live in my apartment! I knew when I took the place on the canal that it would be a risk, but I do love the location and so I chose to deal with it. Mind you, my most recent experience was with the slow, swattable, Montana mosquitoes with whom I really wouldn’t mind sharing a place with so I suppose my memory was a bit cloudy.
The mosquitoes in my apartment are predators. They wait until night time to strike, and only when I’m in bed. I leave the light on in the other room, hoping it will distract them but they are too savvy for such juvenile tactics. Once I am soundly tucked in the stalking begins. One at a time they approach my face (the only part of my body that is not covered in layers of protective cotton). Here’s the clincher – THEY DON’T BUZZ. They are stealthy little bastards and they know better than to give up their location. They also know that once I fall asleep I’ll be an easier target and I can’t do that with them buzzing around my head. So they scout the situation: they fly close, wait to see if I swat at them, and stay just beyond arm’s reach. I’m pretty sure they then report back to the others. I know they’re there, I can see their grim outline in the faint light from my window and I can feel the air from their wings on my (apparently tasty) skin. So I lie there in fear, waiting for them to strike – but THEY DON’T. I feel them all around me, hovering, waiting, watching. But they are patiently waiting for the command from their leader (who I am pretty sure lives in my closet).
This dance has become a part of my nightly routine. I fight off my need for sleep in an attempt to avoid the inevitable. Once I finally give in they make their move, they crawl down into the covers to bite the backs of my knees, the spot between my shoulder blades that I can’t reach, my feet (in places that rub against my shoes). Every 45 minutes I wake up, I try to catch them at it, I roll around hoping to squish them while they feast but to no avail. And so, I surrender. Usually around 4:30am I drift to a cautious state of sleep, knowing that I will wake up covered in itchy red battle wounds, with circles under my eyes and the groggy, clumsy, morning personality of someone who partied all night. But my state of disarray is not because I’m hung over, it’s because I’m hunted. In my own place no less, where a girl should feel safe and relaxed.
This war has slowly begun to take over my days as well. Any slight breeze, a floating piece of fuzz catching my peripheral vision, a stray hair tickling my arm sends me into a frenzy. I can no longer see the line between the dark reality that is my situation and the 6 legged villains that haunt my waking dreams.