Fred is Dead
Cockroach Funerals and Hitting the Bottle
March 5, 2018 — Fred is Dead. And so is my head.
There has been an unfortunate turn of events for both Fred and myself.
A bit more unfortunate for Fred than the latter, however, so we’ll devote our attention in his direction first.
It had been a particularly cold Friday in January. After a long day of protecting the apartment from dust bunnies and Italian grandmothers, Fred the Cockroach, who had been feeling a bit low, was happy to hear the familiar sound of my keys in the door.
A flurry of frosted leaves followed me in as I set the kettle on to boil. Without giving the slightest greeting to Fred in his nest beneath the refrigerator, I made my way to the tiny blue bathroom in an effort to thaw my limbs under a hot shower.
Ever mindful of the electric bill, I hadn’t bothered with lights.
It wasn’t until I’d gone to reach for the shampoo that I became abruptly aware of a three-inch black blob with wet little extremities crawling up my leg. I flung the creature against the linoleum before bludgeoning it with the shampoo bottle.
It wasn’t until I clambered for the lights that I realized what I had done.
Apparently Fred felt completely ignored and had come in search of an apology, only to find his ultimate end.
Fred is dead. Quite dead.
He was a faithful and undemanding companion, but he was just getting a little too familiar. I’ll have you know I feel no remorse for my actions, even if I do miss him.
Maybe with the loss of Fred I was lonesome for a pet, or maybe I liked the idea of having a place to stay in Manhattan for a few nights. A bit of both perhaps.
One way or another, in the first week of February, I found myself cat-sitting for a weekend in the City.
Clio is a 35-pound calico with warm hugs and a purr that resembles the noise a turkey makes. I have stayed with her many times when her human was away and we get on well together.
On the fateful morning, I slept late, enjoying the luxury of sleeping in a warm apartment within 20 minutes of anything you could ever want in New York City. I had my breakfast before Miss Clio awoke to ask for hers.
I opened the refrigerator door and reached to the bottom shelf to grab her soft, non-GMO organic princess cat food, when things went dark.
Apparently, a bottle of wine fell off the top of the fridge and landed squarely on the back of my head.
Thank goodness I came to before anyone walked in on me passed out in a pool of wine at eight in the morning. It brings a whole new dimension to the term, “hitting the bottle.”
I stumbled around the apartment with my mind in a jumble of Bugs Bunny stars trying to avoid broken glass. Clio and I laughed as we cleaned up the mess.
I must have made it to work; I thought I was pretty much normal but my boss sent me home. It was the weekend and pouring down rain, so the trains were a bit of a mess, but after three hours of stumbling from train to train I managed to get the rest of the way back to Brooklyn in an UBER.
It wasn’t until I’d planted myself in bed that the adrenaline wore off and I knew something was wrong. I called my mother and raged and rambled about a waitress charging me three dollars for hot water with lemon and about a bump on the back of my head and a splitting headache and maybe laughing turkeys.
She must have gathered what had happened because when I woke up the next day her sister-in-law, Susan, was on my doorstep with a plate of pancakes from my favorite diner. I didn’t say thank you. I just started crying for probably the third time in my adult life.
I cried for the entire day and I didn’t know why.
The next day I woke up to my mom standing in the hallway.
That was four weeks ago, today.
The days that filled that time are grey. I slept through the first two weeks by the grace of a note from the ER to give my professors, but I was determined to return to school by the third week. The neurologist I’d visited told me it would take 6 to 8 weeks to feel better, but what did he know? I would soon be fine and my mom was there to help me.
And then Mom caught the flu and was in bed with a fever for eight days. We were quite the pair. Mom and I laid on the couch, taking turns filling the tea pot, listening to the multitude of cockroaches moving in to stake their claims, filling the territory the enormous Fred had once ruled as supreme commander. We were both too sick to care.
When I went back to school, I’d fall on the escalator and cry anytime anyone asked me a simple question. The lights and noises would make my head spin and I couldn’t remember any given list of instructions past the first step. I was two weeks behind already, and unable to comprehend what to do to catch up. The headaches were constant, with the occasional pounding or stabbing to mix it up.
My professors were happy to work with me as best they could, and my mom did everything she could to help get me to and from school, but by the end of the third week we all knew I wasn’t getting better and I wasn’t going to catch up.
I’d been offered an internship at a bridal company the week before, so I knew that even if I took the semester off I could be learning. It would only be two days a week and wouldn’t include the stress of homework.
We were getting ready to go the school to finalize my withdrawal when we found out I couldn’t live in my apartment anymore if I wasn’t in school.
So that was it.
On Friday I turned in the withdrawal paperwork. On Saturday I said goodbye to my friends and gave them the things I couldn’t take with me or store. On Sunday I said goodbye to my church and the family I’ve come to know there. On Monday, today, I’m sitting in an airplane 40,000 feet in the air above Portland, Oregon, where Michael is waiting to pick Mom and me up along with four suitcases and one supportive little cactus riding in my carry on.
At a proud, spiky, nine inches, Magellan, who endured a 10-day road trip across America and a summer working in a dress shop in SoHo, is more than hopeful for the days ahead and the start of a new adventure.
Fred is dead. I’m a college drop-out with the memory of a goldfish. Thank goodness the cactus has some spunk left.
I don’t know what’s coming next. Will I go back to New York? I hope so. But I don’t know.
I do know that my doctor wants me to be very quiet for a few weeks to get my brain to heal up.
I know that I am on the list for priority registration for Fall 2018 at FIT.
I know that I have a really great family and a whole network of friends all over the world who love me.
I know that plans are overrated and a turn of unfortunate events can bloom into something even better than what I could ever ask for.
I know I serve a big God who knows why these things happen, and I know that He hasn’t brought me this far, just to leave me all alone in a pile of broken glass and spilled wine.
As for Fred, he’s probably laying on a beach in Cockroach heaven thinking we are about even now.
Thank you so much to everyone who has been praying, sending meals, and being there for me durning ths time! Thank you to everyone at Apostles Brooklyn for going above and beyond to help out, and thank you Professor Jo and Doctor Carrol for all of the support and great ideas! Thank you Julia O. and Alexander for listening to my jumbled ramblings when I don't make any sense, and thank you Tiffany and Julia T. for taking my things and being there for me. Thank you to my grandparents for sending me UBER rides to get me around to tie up loose ends. Thank you to my parents who have done so much to take care of me, Michael for making me feel welcome and so loved, and Mom for being my brain and helping me think/remember, and even helpig me write this blogpost. I love you all so much!