A few months ago, my brilliant and talented friend Carl stayed at my apartment for a few days while visiting New York. Though we don’t see each other all that often, we have the kind of friendship where we can be honest with each other, even when things aren’t so pretty. It’s something I value and am incredibly grateful for. Most of the time.
On the last day of his stay, I had some errands to run, so I left him at the apartment to do his thing. A few minutes later, I got a Snapchat from him – it was a picture of a dead cockroach on its back, a few inches from my radiator.
“KILL IT WITH FIRE,” I responded, as any completely sane person would.
Roaches are just a fact of life in New York. No matter where you live or how long your apartment building has existed, you’re going to deal with them at some point. They’re gross, but I’ve kind of just accepted the fact that I am invading their turf. They were here first. And they’re probably not going to kill me. Probably.
Still, it’s embarrassing as hell to have a guest find one in your home.
I live alone, so when it comes to my apartment, I don’t really have anyone to answer to but myself. No one’s nagging me to wash my dishes, or take out the recycling, or clean my refrigerator (seriously, who has the time?). I keep the place as clean as possible for myself and try to get in a good deep cleaning session at least once a month. It’s not always easy, though. I’m a busy person – some weeks I’m only home long enough to get in a good night’s sleep. This was more or less the norm back when I was working 50 hours a week.
I let things pile up. I hide my messes when people come over. Sometimes it’s easy. Sometimes the cracks show.
Despite being a Virgo, I am far from a perfectionist. I know that I can’t control everything. I know that I can’t make everyone feel safe. And yet, when someone finds something off about my home – a leaky faucet, an unclean glass, a roach carcass – I feel like they’re seeing my truth. That I am a messy person who can’t take care of herself. Someone who enjoys living in filth. Someone who just doesn’t care.
If I’ve learned anything this year, it’s that I can’t wallow in that feeling. I can listen to it and acknowledge its presence, but I can’t let it control me. That just leads to more hoarding, more ignoring, more surface-level cleaning. If anything, that Snap was a wake up call.
Last night, I finally had some time to investigate the problem further. It turns out that my sink has been leaking for…who even knows how long. One thing roaches love more than human food is damp spaces. And I gave them a nice place to play.
It feels shitty to acknowledge the fact that I’ve been ignoring this problem for so long. I feel like I lost all my “cool girl who lives alone” cred in that moment. My apartment can look cool as hell, but what’s even the point if things don’t work properly?
I took a second to wallow, and then called my super. He’s looking into it today. It may take a few days to fix, but we’ll find a solution. And who knows? Maybe someday it’ll start leaking again. At least I’ll know what to do.