When Josh and I first moved into our beachfront home, a seaside condo adorned with a kitschy wooden sign reading Sea Echo , we couldn't believe how blessed we were. We'd wake up every day and stare at the ocean still feeling like undeserving tourists in a foreign beach land. This was the weekend before Thanksgiving, and the weather was delightfully overcast. Later that week, on Thanksgiving day, the warm sun came out sending a million sparkles over the ocean, and we had the family over and everyone marveled at our view and location. All was well in the honeymoon period of Sea Echo...and then the plagues started.
ONE: First, the rain came about 2 weeks after we were moved in. I was excited about rain at the beach, grey skies over a rolling ocean would conjure up romantic Melville-ian accounts of sea travel. But then, a storm rolled through that had Josh and I doing a relay of soaking up the water pouring in under our front door and wringing out towels and elucidated why we have storm windows on the front of our house. The rain (and sometimes hail) literally came in sideways straight into the front of our house, and the wind rocked our house with great booms and creaks and sent us on treasure hunts the next morning to reclaim objects swept off our balcony. This would be the first a quite a few storms throughout the winter.
TWO: When the rain started, the ants came. While they weren't as bad as other places we've lived, it was not as fun to find an army of ants under the Christmas tree instead of gifts. We soon discovered that the ant spray we were using did nothing, and the ants, most likely out of sheer annoyance, relocated to a plant on my balcony where I'm happy to let them live as long as they don't come in the house.
THREE: The rainy season subsided and gave way to warm and sunny spring. Although the blue skies and brilliant colors were a welcome change, they were accompanied by perhaps the most terrifying of all plagues, millipedes. The first time I saw one of these aliens, I was about to wash dishes and saw it sitting in my sink. I sent it into the garbage disposal and added it to the "Ask God Why He'd Make These When You Die" list. Since then, I've only had the displeasure of seeing them 2 more times. Once, I was happy to see that, when hit with a broom, they explode into pieces and their legs continue to twitch for a couple minutes afterward.
FOUR: Silverfish. Pretty common in moist climates, silverfish are usually found in dark areas of the house, so I've really only seen a couple of them a couple times when I've pulled something out of the very back of a cabinet or flipped on a light in the middle of the night. And, truth be told, I'll take silverfish over cockroaches any day.
FIVE: Spring gave way to summer, which brought junebugs (which is bad enough) which brought skunks. The skunks weren't as bad. Josh and I would sit on the balcony at night and watch 8-10 of them congregate in the park, and we'd enjoy the show of people coming up from the beach and freak out at the mine field of skunks now residing between them and their car. Oddly, I don't mind the smell of skunks, but Josh was not a fan. The worst is that they'd fight or mate under our bedroom window, so we'd wake up to this sound at 3:30 in the morning:
SIX: Evidently, with the heat of summer, come termites. We knew the house had termites, but the first time I actually saw one, I was working on a painting at the dining room table and killed what I thought was a flying ant. Then I killed another one. Then three more. Then went on to vacuum and kill about 50 more that day and 20 the next until we were able to detect we're they were coming from and spray. Because the spray we used was from Lowe's, and not a professional termite specialist, it's effective at keeping them at bay for about 5 days at a time, and then I start spotting them here and there. The worst part is that I've found new holes in the beams above our kitchen, and I'm constantly having to check all my stored artwork since they also eat paper. With the recent loss of our landlord, we're trying to stay on top of it and spot treat until we find out who is in charge so we can have someone come in and spray or get the place tented, which is very common around here. It looks like a new circus is in our neighborhood once a week.
SEVEN: Last night, Josh and I were watching TV and heard a scuffling sort of noise on shelf behind the couch. I looked at Josh and said, "What was that?" In traditional cavalier Josh fashion, he just shrugged and said, "I dunno." I got up to investigate saying, "What if it was a critter?" Josh dismissed the idea implying that it was absurd. I looked to see a few things had slid off a folded blanket onto the floor and thought nothing more of it and sat back down. A minute later, Josh got up to go to bathroom. I was sitting on the couch and caught a dark spot out of the corner of my eye, and looked up to see that a rat had wandered in through our open front door into our living room. I jumped up to get Josh and scared it. I'm pretty sure it ran back out the front door, but I still closed off all the other rooms and made Josh check under every piece of furniture in our living room and kitchen with a flashlight. All this after, a couple weeks ago, our next door neighbors had a raccoon wander into their kitchen while they were making dinner.
EIGHT: Went to go to bed the other night and heard what could only be described as an ROUS battle to the death. A cacophony of snarling, panting, grunting, squeaking that turned out to be raccoons either mating or fighting on the balcony next door. This interaction continued on the roof until 1:00 in the morning. Since we have a slanted Brady-Bunch-style roof, they took great pleasure in running up and rolling down the roof, forcing me to fumble in the dark for earplugs to drown out the thump-thump-thump. A couple nights later, it started all over again on the balcony, and Josh went out armed with a broom and a flashlight to chase them away....my knight in threadbare boxers.
NINE: So, as it turns out, when your landlord passes away, and the management company takes their sweet time cleaning out the food from her apartment, mice start running amok in the building. It also turns out that having mice in your house is not cute like it is in Disney movies. It's more like you've been sick for 7 straight days and finally find two hours to sit on the couch and watch a movie only to see a mouse running through your living room half way through and spend the rest of the night holed up in your office in the back of the house. Or, it's more like the next morning when you still feel sick and have to go to work early so you go into the kitchen to make breakfast and are horrified to find mouse poop all over your counters, so you text your husband, "I'm out," and leave the house. Sea Echo, I am not in love with you. I am officially breaking up with you.
TEN: The final plague has such an enormous presence, it was easy to ignore as one specific problem since it's all around me: noise. And, it is perhaps the largest of them all. Between early morning leaf blowers, barking dogs, screaming children, surfers who think everyone wants to listen to their crappy reggae while they change to go into the water, wedding DJs, inconsiderate vacation renters, and our neighbors in the adjacent building who yell over each other and can't watch TV unless it's at a volume that thunders through our walls, there is literally not a moment of silence here. I spend 8 hours a day with earbuds in my ears to stave off the knot in my stomach from being constantly startled or annoyed by loud noises being blasted through all sides of my house. With any luck, I'll dull my hearing enough that it won't bother me anymore. (As I'm writing this, there is a perfect storm of leaf-blower, loud techno, and my neighbors yelling at each other over their television. It is 8:30am. Ah, beach life).