I am a newcomer to Wisconsin. Barely twenty-five years old. A babe. Newly partnered. Married even. Still working on my dissertation (never to finish working on my dissertation, but I do not know this at the time).
We are renting an apartment just at the edge of west Madison. Cornfields outside. (These days there are endless suburban homes growing in the once fertile corn soil.)
It’s August. Watch that corn grow!
The night is warm. We’re young, we stay out later than one would now.
But eventually we roll back to our wee little apartment, with the view of endless sky.
Turn key in lock, open door, look up. A million bugs cover the ceiling. Grain gnats, I call them, but who know what they are. They moved in by way of the small openings in the screen. This is their home. I am the outsider.
Almost thirty years have passed since that day with the bugs.
I am in my condo now.
Daughters, born, schooled, departed, are now back home on a brief visit.
The condo is almost finished. Almost almost. But there are no screens on my large glass doors.
Night is cool, the sound of crickets is so enticing. I crack the door to the fantastic balcony and doze.
Near midnight, I wake up. A thousand, no, a million bugs cover the spotlighted ceiling. Baby mosquitoes? Flies? Who are you? What are you doing here?
I’m not proud of swatting them, but swat I do. For hours. I knock down and break things (good bye ceramic woman of Russia), I wipe up bug corpses, I leave splotches on the freshly painted ceiling and walls.
Mosquitoes, flies, grain gnats. There is no such thing as a pristine wall, a clean slate, an untarnished surface. Not for long, anyway.
Of course, I can just keep the glass door closed after the sun sets...