But there are vague indications that bed bugs may be growing from eggs to maturity in my apartment and my reaction hasn't been "I have to move to another apartment" but "I have to move to another country--one where DDT hasn't been banned." This is probably not a sane response to invasion by vermin, but it is mine.
The irony for me is that this time around I was prepared to stay. I was ready to wrinkle up and write in my little Chinatown apartment for the rest of my days. Unlike other U.S. sojourns when I got comfortable and cozy with the knowledge that it was going to be a temporary state of affairs.
But in this new domicile I have almost no furniture, I am unable to ask people to come over for fear that they will go home packing unseen hitch-hikers, I still have scars on my left arm which was covered with bites two months ago, and in February I spent twelve hours on the street while my apartment underwent fumigation. My landlord and his assistant informed me with gentle raillery the other day that golly gee yes they were fairly sure I was over-reacting when I learned I shared my apartment with bed bugs. I thought of the nights I was awakened by violent itching and tried not to look for something big and potentially lethal to throw at them as they relapsed into innocent merriment. Not funny, suckers, not one tiny bit.
I look on Craigslist and the apartments I can afford are all of the same vintage and ilk as the one I live in now--100 years old. lots of wood--and my inner alarm begins to jangle. There is nowhere to hide, nowhere to run...except to parts of the world where toxins are essential facts of life. Ecuador? Argentina? Deepest Peru?
Perhaps what is occasionally biting me is a colony of carpet mites--would that make a difference? It would for me. A bite or two every week I could live with. An arm swollen with bites and little fluid-filled pustules on the bones of my fingers--not acceptable.
Very few people react to the saliva of bed bugs. I do. If they are here, breeding and growing, it will soon be no secret to me. Or to any of you, because my screams of outrage and horror will float all across the Pacific Rim. Let us pray...