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Literally. March 28, 2006

Posted by brianna in Verbosity.

Today, I smelled a rat.

I could just tell, you know?

Last night before I went to bed I got a wiff of…something. Sort of…not pleasent. But, I figured it was the air conditioner. It's kind of a sketchy AC, I routinely spray bleach into it because, frankly, its secret inner depths frighten me. So, I crawl into my bed and fall asleep, sure everything will smell right tomorrow.

But, everything did not smell right.

I routinely wake up 15 minutes before work, belying my girlie-girl exterior. I roll out of bed, brush my hair and teeth and wash my face, apply mascara, deoderant and perfume, find hose and skirt and shirt, pull them on, pull hair into ponytail, put on shoes and out the door. So, I'm locating which particular skirt-and-shirt combo I'm going to sport today, and catch That Smell once again. It's driving me nuts, so I narrow it down to a corner of the room where a locked door would connect my room to the neighbor's, should the door ever be opened. I move a backpack, and there….

was a rat.

Or, more specifically, the /head/ of a rat who had tried to come into my room from the neighbor's room, gotten stuck under the door and died.

I did not scream, though I'm sure my eyes widened comically as I backed slowly away. How absolutely horrible. I'm sure he was trying to escape the rain, or perhaps the pesticides that had been sprayed recently…living in this area of Florida, especially at ground level, you begin to accept the fact that sometimes, things are going to travel through. But I sincerely wish he had chosen to travel through somewhere else. And not die. And make my room smell. Because, really. How. Awful.

And now, I have to look forward to going home to dead rat and figuring out how to dispose of it.

This, of course, is the downfall of living alone. I can't call someone to remove the rat for me, as there is noone to call. I have no relatives nearby, no friends around…if I find a rat, I have to remove a rat. This realization…that 'living alone, eek, eek, eek' sack of rocks that falls on you sometimes, is very unsettling. This was really driven home a few months ago when, on a return trip from Montreal, my alternator died completely over an hour from home, while travling on I-95. I was stranded, noone to call but work (Hi, I can't come in tonight…), nowhere to stay but a motel a short drive from where my car was towed. I spent the next day freaking out in the repair shop waiting room – my car was fixed, but the bank was closed and I could not pay for my new alternator because I could not access my savings account.

This. Totally. Sucked.

I did eventually manage to get everything sorted. I borrowed money from a coworker, drove home, went to work, transfered money, repaid coworker, got my car serviced. On my own. And once everything was fixed, settled, once my car was working and I looked back on all the steps I'd taken, I felt triumphant. Excited, even. I was a problem solver, I lived alone and drove alone and had a problem and fixed the problem without any parental help.

And there's the other side of the coin. Sometimes, I love my life. Especially when walking home from work…a job that I found myself, do well at, am proud of. The air is soft and a few shops are still open, and occasionally I'll stop for ice cream…knowing that there is no 'late', that noone is standing in the doorway tapping their foot, leaning against the frame and wondering where I am, when will I, did I remember to, she had to have… I can turn right instead of left and take a walk, should I desire. My self-indulgances effect only me – my occasional splurges into seven dollar ice-cream double shot coffees are inconsequential, buying yarn with no immediate plans? – Also fine. Noone can take me to task for leaving cups in the sink for a day, or keeping my shoes in four different places, or keeping a wool comb clamped dangerously to a chair for a week straight without actually combing any wool. Walking home is presented as a possibility instead of an ending. 'What can I do tonight' is more often swirling around my head than 'What should I do' or 'What do I need to do?' or 'I hope I don't have to…'

It's nervewracking to constantly live on that divinding line between exhilarating, intoxicating freedom (I have $2000 in checking! I could buy a second laptop!) and terror (I only have $2000 in checking! If I break a leg I will be broke /and/ homeless!). But in a way it's the fulfillment of that very typical 'when I'm a grownup' dream. Where I don't have a bedtime and can buy all the candy I want and sleep in my clothes or never wear socks or eat only purple things for two weeks (no, I've never done this.) I really can jump on the bed if I want, and be impractical with purchases and say 'hello' to strangers. I keep a few bottles of liquor on hand should I have a late night craving for a White Russian. (Few things feel as grown up as actually having a few bottles of nice alcohol stored away and occasionally indulged in…empty bottles are too 'underaged binge', but being able to offer people 'a drink' when they visit is a lovely tingly 'what a grownup' feeling). I'm a bit tickled when I step behind myself and see that I'm living 'the grownup life' I'd envisioned at 12.

I know that my years of 'the grownup life' are fast dwindling…going back to school would crush it, as would marriage and children should that ever happen. So, I am pledging to try, very hard, to appreciate the leniency I have now to sleep twelve hours a day, eat cookies in bed, take an hour to walk home. I know, in my mid-twenties way, that at 35 I'll look back at me deciding to take the wrong turn on my walk home and getting ice cream instead with amused envy, I know that I'll never be able to appreciate my decision-making freedom now like I will in hindsight, in later lives and situations. But I can certainly try, and be aware of it, and laugh at myself when I swerve too closely to the 'terror' side of the balancing act and realize that I havn't had a checkup for three years and what if I have cancer, heavens to Betsy!

I'm not very good at keeping promises to myself, though, so you can look forward to pleanty of rambly agonizing about my life choices yet. Hooray!

And I still have to get the freaking rat out of my room.


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