Flowers from George
I hated cockroaches. I have always hated them.
When I was young and before I rented my very first own apartment, I had never ever seen one prior to then.
The apartment was in a run down building that was barely occupied and some apartments were so broken down, that the doors were missing and water was leaking out of pipes, that had been fixated to not flood the building and were leading the water elsewhere.
It was eerie, really, really eerie – BUT – it was a place to call home after a 19 hours flight and a new start in life, when I was still a wild child and rather disorderly, a rebel of society sort of speaking.
I saw no reason to waste money on a hotel or motel, not even a hostel, especially since I did not have much of it anyway.
Money, always money- whoever invented that needs to be shot.
When I entered the outskirts of Tacoma, Washington, I asked the taxi driver, who was an older and a bit scary looking guy with a scruffy face, if he knew of apartment buildings, that would rent quickly and without checking on credit, since I had none and just relocated to the USA.
He answered: “Child, this is the US of A and there are plenty of buildings, but the budget you named is not enough for a very good area, only for the lesser pretty part of town.”
Naive, young and dumb as I was, I said: “OK, so take me there please.”
The streets became darker and less friendly. We drove through an industrial area that looked like a ghost town out of a really scary horror movie and I felt my heart drop a little towards my knees.
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre from 1974 came to mind, as did The Fog.
I caught myself looking around and expecting something to jump out from somewhere.
What if the Cabby was really a monster or zombie and just disguised himself? All possibilities of being murdered entered my mind and now I was really scared, especially since he was being so quiet and had a determined and grim look on his already a little scary looking face.
I found myself clearing my throat and asking in a very quiet, shy and shaky little girl’s voice:
“Are we there yet?” He did not answer.
Maybe he did not hear me, so I asked again, just a little louder: “Are we there yet?”
He put on the breaks very harshly, turned around with a very angry look on his face and said:
“Does it look like we are there yet?”
He realized that he pushed it a bit hard when I saw the surprised look on his face, as tears were running down mine.
I did not expect this at all and was tired, hungry, a bit afraid, because I was all alone on a different continent, where I only spent a few years in my very early childhood and did not have much memory of it at that. But it was home and I wanted to be there.
Growing up in Europe was not easy and I never felt, I belonged there, especially since I looked different from the rest of my family and was treated accordingly also, and not always in a good way. While my family had blond,light brown hair and greyish, blue and green eyes with a very light skin, I contrasted them with very dark eyes, black hair and easy to tan skin, that made me look so different from them.
I never questioned it, at times I even thought I was adopted, and while growing up with my grandparents, I enjoyed the best Education that money could buy, including the schools that teach you how to eat, walk, talk and how to act around other people.
God, how I hated having that big ass bible on top of my head to learn how to balance while walking or while sitting at the table trying to eat, with two more books, one under each arm.
Am I a princess or why did they put me through this?
As it turned out much later, I was no princess, but they tried to change my heritage without realizing that they could not change the spots on a leopard.
I have to give it to them, they really, really tried – hard!
I found out many years later, that I am half gypsy and THAT was unacceptable to the rest of the family and their environment. That was the reason, they were constantly yelling at my mother and making her cry.
So that is why my father was never allowed at our house. I was too small to understand, but I did understand the sense of evilness and unacceptance floating around.
I watched my mom slowly deteriorate over the years after she was forced to divorce him and she never was the same again.
I was too young to really understand back then what was going on, so I did not question things, but I did catch the ugliness of that situation.
I decided at that point and right then and there to leave as soon as I was old enough and I did – quietly, not telling anyone, because I would have never made it out of there, since my grandma, the reigning house dragon, as she was lovingly called, was lining up the young studs to marry me and get me out of her house and away from her having to be responsible for me.
I was just a teenager, for Christ sake. This was MY life and MY choice, and I needed to do whatever it took to get away.
I played organ for money in churches during masses, I played waitress at several cafe’s and did whatever I could do for work to remove my unwanted self from the situation I was living in.
And finally the day had come: I had enough for a one way ticket to Tacoma, wherever the hell that was, and booked it. I just had one thought on my mind: Away from a family that really did not want me there, but simply tolerated me and flying into freedom.
Why did they not just leave me with my parents and insisted instead that I grow up with them?
I got all those answers much later in my life, but that is another story.
So, anyway, I heard Nick, the Cabby say: “I am so sorry, I did not want to frighten you, but I hate this area. Too much trouble, too much crime, but it is a shortcut to save you money, because the regular way would have been 10 miles or more. We will be at the other side of town in a few minutes.
As it turned out upon arrival and the initial introduction, his friend managed this run down building and as we drove up to it, I thought:
“OH – MY – GOD!”
I heard of graffiti, but never saw it in real life and here it was in all of its glory. Actually it was not bad looking in my opinion, I convinced myself.
After all, this was going to be home for a short while.
Marcus, Nick’s friend was an older, toothless guy, but very nice and he apologized right away for the condition of the building.
The owner, he told me, cared less about it and now he was left renting to low income people, but that everyone in the building was one big happy family.
Cool, so I can breathe normal again.
My new stable was on the fourth floor and looked clean on the first look and even though, the pipes were outside of the walls, which I never saw before, it looked, – well -, almost cozy.
Marcus asked me if I needed some furniture to get started and I told him I cannot afford them yet. He answered: “No problem, I have a storage full of them, they are almost new and you are welcome to them.”
This turned out to be a great new start, I thought.
I opened the cabinets and all was clean. I found the broom closet and saw a stack of newspapers, that were left behind in the top area and pulled it down – along with hundreds of cockroaches of all sizes, that covered me and were all over my body.
I screamed in horror and both Nick and Marcus hurried up and tried to get them off me.
Once I recovered from that shock, Marcus immediately called the exterminator to take care of the problem. More to this later.
To get back on track to the here and now, and leaving all the gory details in between out for the moment, I ended up relocating to Thailand seven years ago still hating cockroaches with a passion.
That was until I saw the movie “Joe’s Apartment” a couple of years back.
Hmm, kind of cool, I thought. I stumbled across that movie by accident and after watching it, I saw cockroaches in a whole new light.
So very recently and just a few days ago, as I was preparing dinner for my husband, I felt as if someone was watching me.
I looked up and saw the biggest and seriously majestic looking cockroach ever in my life on the upper part of my kitchen wall.
Thailand does not just have roaches, they have the supersize cockroach, that spent years in the gym to built muscles like Arnold Schwarzenegger and that will walk away with your entire plate if given the chance.
The feelers of that thing on my wall were curiously swaying and I did not dare move, remembering my little adventure from Tacoma years ago with horror – still.
He just sat there and I just stood there staring at him. He did not move, but I felt a sense of calmness coming from him.
So I continued to prepare dinner, after realizing, that he posed no threat. He watched me the whole time and when I served dinner and returned the dishes to the kitchen sink, he was gone.
This repeated itself every evening for weeks and it may sound crazy, but we had a silent understanding, that I won’t kill him and he won’t come near me.
Since we live in this rural environment with all kind of animals, critters and crawlers, which include scorpions, snakes, as well as very beasty army and fire ants, all the other garden roaches knew my broom, because I made it a point to be in control of my area and when they saw me coming with that thing, they would turn around and angrily stomp away, so it seemed.
They did not really want to continue to make the acquaintance with that broom, and preferably stayed in their area, while I stayed in mine.
You may think this bitch here is crazy, so maybe I am, but I have learned long time ago to live with nature and not against it, which is why these creatures are allowed to live in my yard.
After all, it is US invading THEIR space and not THEM invading OURS!!!
THEY were here first.
I named my kitchen friend George and thought to myself: So this is how far you have gotten. You are having discussions with cockroaches. I caught myself talking to him and believe it or not, he was answering in his own way, but still careful and from a safe distance.
Since I studied animal communication,I at first struggled with it, but then I started to understand George.
Having lived a life full of hatred and despise towards him so far, because of who he was, he learned to be careful.
The thoughts kept crossing my mind, that all creatures have a purpose in life, even the most disgusting and ugliest and George let me feel, that his purpose in life was to eat the dead carcasses of lizards maybe laying around somewhere, the garbage and nasty, dead stuff, that makes us sick, when left laying around for too long and that could seriously kill or make my rescued eleven dogs and nine cats very ill.
He was not trying to invade my space. He did what he was destined to do and accepted the fact that he had to share his space with humans, that had invaded his.
All of the sudden I understood.
George visited every evening, sat in the same spot with his feelers curiously swaying, and I actually was looking forward to his presence.
There always was a sense of calmness entering when he was around. Strange, very, very strange.
Then, one evening, I noticed he was not there and I was wondering, why not.
After all he should know, that I was not going to harm him.
I caught myself seriously looking for him, how weird.
A few days later I found him laying on his back in a corner behind a decorative cup. I knew right away it was him because of his color and size. He looked and acted different from the other ones outside.…
The strange thing was, he had a very small flower next to him and his two front legs embraced it, as if he wanted to bring it to me.
Unbelievable, I felt tears coming up and choking me and the sense of having lost a very good friend.
Weird? No, it took a cockroach to finally having understood the purpose of all living beings and respecting them, no matter what or who they are.
And how was your day?