They get inside the house when I open the back door to check on the garden and when I collect the mail. The mail isn’t postcards or letters, just stupid purchases in stupid boxes. I’m apologetic when Skylar chops the boxes into smaller pieces for recycling on Sunday nights. I don’t cut them up when he’s out of town, instead I bend them into an impossible cluster inside the bag and hope he doesn’t know what I’m getting away with.
The mosquitoes end up in the bedroom and they buzz all night. They whizz by my ear every few minutes, the dumbest, most infuriating taunt. Skylar had a whole moth fly into his ear canal once. I think about the dead and dying mosquitoes that surely live inside my head.
The backyard is, past mid-June, pretty much useless. I water the garden in the morning and try to ignore the carnage upon my legs. I apologize to every friend, hand them the spray, and suggest we say a prayer. This is private outdoor space in New York City, and we are going to enjoy it.
The bedroom mosquito bites my feet. It makes me frantic and insane. It’s personal. I turn on the lights, with an unread book in my hand. I lay in wait and then I go for it. I leave their smeared remnants on the walls and the ceiling. A lazy threat to the rest.
I try to convince myself that the itching sensation is all in my head. It’s not a deadly symptom, I remind myself. Scratching will not help. I can control my reaction to this, I assure myself. But I can’t. For someone so ambitious and so stubborn, I have never done anything just to prove that I can do it. I don’t believe in that sort of thing.
The garden is the best dumb idea I’ve ever had. I’ve never really cared about the outdoors, when I discovered cities and concrete when I was eighteen I was hooked. Streets and apartments and people I’ll never see again are currents I understand. I’ve kept only one houseplant alive all these years, a neglected pothos that has, in spite of me, decided to live. The garden too, in a backyard that doesn’t really get enough direct sunlight, as the man who lives next door assured me (via his 6 yr old child). But like the pothos, the tomatoes and peppers and mint prevailed.
The itching wins. I get out of bed. There is hydrocortisone in my nightstand. I wonder if it’s a placebo, if I have actually overcome my mind. The thing about me… I will buy any kind of cream to solve any kind of problem.
I tell Skylar I’m going to email the city, they need to spray something, they need to do something. My emails to the city like my emails to the MTA, complaints about C-train service somewhere right now, never to be seen or heard from again.
I fantasize about a covered porch, a fake outside. I could bake in the humidity, my skin glorious and my hair a nightmare. I could drink cold red wine and read a book, at least. I could be barefoot. I could be free of them. Do covered porches even exist here?
They stuck around this year. I was finding mosquitoes in the hallway in November. They are uninterested in my ideas about seasons and boundaries and I nearly admire it.
In spite of myself and in spite of them, I am planning the next garden for the dark backyard, but not to prove anything—not even to the mosquitoes. Not that I have any choice, but I’ll let them eat me alive.
Nice to hear from you, Kara!