What? A Roach in my Kitchen, but I Live in Belle Meade.

What? A Roach in My Kitchen. I Live in Belle Meade!

When I lived in New York City on a first floor walk up on the first floor with radiators from the first century, the kind that pound when the hot water blasts through—you kind of expect roaches. Actually, if I were to get up in the middle of the night and turn on a light in the kitchen about 100 water bugs and their sisters would scatter at any given time, no matter how clean or remiss of food the kitchen was. And mice. We had those too. They had a little Dixie band that would get together on the top of the refrigerator right after my roommate and I fell asleep every night.

Today, when I see one roach, my whole body quivers. But then, it really wasn’t such a big deal. I guess at 21 years old and living in your own apartment in New York you think that you have just about made it. You know the saying, “If I can make it there, I can make it anywhere.” When you live in NYC at that age, I think that goes through your mind a lot when mice are running across your feet and you bite into a roach wing in your fried eggs in the morning. EEESSH!

Growing up in the lower middle class helped me understand what it was like to actually become poor as I moved with mother in 11th grade and we had exactly $10 for food each week. So, going to NYC and having to fend for myself on a little more than that was actually a treat. I remember the first week, I ate bacon sandwiches the entire week. I realized that was a luxury, so I switched to a steady diet of Ramen, generic mac and cheese and boiled chicken thighs and legs. Yes, that was before my 21 years of vegetarianism.

I lived in MidTown, which is now quite posh and gentrified. When I lived on 49th Street and Ninth Avenue, there were pushers on every corner and the apartments were very filthy and practically unlivable. I remember one summer, my neighbors, who had a really cool apartment (because one guy was a carpenter and remodeled the place) were going away for 3 months. They asked me if I wanted to sublet. So, I did and sublet my apartment. It turned out to be a money-making project for me. I made more subletting my apartment then I did living in it. My neighbors just wanted someone they could trust in theirs.

In the first week I just cleaned. I remember cleaning the living room area, which my apartment didn’t have. But after I had cleaned everything to the bone, I notice that the carpet was moving by itself. I had a couple friends with me helping me. We were Pentecostal and began to pray in tongues. We lifted up the carpet to find myriads of roaches—cousins of second cousins crawling on top of each other boring into the wood floors.

How could my neighbors not have noticed thousands of roaches living under their carpet for God knows how long? We all actually screamed and ran to the store for some kind of industrial strength roach bomb. I stayed at a friends for 2 days before I went to clean up the dead bugs.

All this to say: lots of bugs can live beneath the surface of what looks to be beautiful and nice. Sometimes you actually have to live in a person’s house to see what he or she deals with daily, before you can judge what’s going on in a life. Be kinder and more compassionate today.

Today is “Don’t Judge Your Neighbor Day!”

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