I’ve moved out of my apartment in Reston.
I spent the last month working with the apartment complex and an exterminator. I got the leasing office to agree to let me out of my lease if the infestation wasn’t resolved to our satisfaction. It wasn’t. So here I am, couch surfing while I look for a new job and a new place to live.
99% of my life and my entire studio is now in a 10x20’ box. I thoroughly wrapped anything that wasn’t clearly and certainly not infested in plastic (hundreds of records, books, magazines, crates of electronics, my PC, my TV, my monitor…). Stuff that was questionable or made by Ikea was thrown out.
Some non-infested things just got ‘baled’ to make it easier to move them. Anything that might have hidden a roach or an egg sac was wrapped to suffocate and dehydrate. Everything in that unit is being cooked during the day and chilled at night. Having become nearly an expert on German cockroaches (the kind that infested my apartment), this should be sufficient to ensure they’re all dead within about two weeks. A month to be sure.
I moved for a bunch of reasons. A lot of them were to make myself and my dog happy. The location was key. Right next to a huge park to go for long walks in (and to mountain bike in). Close to the Metro.
The rest, I was sure, wouldn’t matter. But I was wrong. I had never lived with infestation. I didn’t know how to search for information on what it might mean. I saw some roaches when I moved in and thought “Normal. The reviews of this place say there are roaches, we’re right next to the park, and it’s an apartment. There’s no way to prevent it entirely. I’ll be fine.”
On my last night there, sleeping on a couch, I plugged in my phone charger only to have a roach crawl out of the outlet and along the wall, pausing as if to say “How dare you?” before I slapped the wall, crushing it.
I should have engaged with the leasing office on day one. I should have looked up more than a few Wikipedia pages and blog posts. I should have been more concerned when the infestation got worse during the summer.
Would have/Should have…
The thing is, though, the building should be cleared and cleaned. It deserves a renovation and some upgrades. It’s an old building. It’s got some history. It’s not great, but it’s in a beautiful area and it deserves to be preserved better than it is.
Someone should put love into it, because it deserves that. Most of all, the people who move into it, who live there now, who want to live there in the future… they deserve to live free of the possibility that their possessions will become infested. They shouldn’t be worried that they’ll have to throw out their beloved rice cookers or their expensive TV’s or Playstations. Or that their food will become contaminated or their pets sick.
I’m glad that I was able to get out with so few problems, on the scale of problems that could have come from this whole situation. But we need to do better. Sharing a building is a necessity for so many people.
When I left the apartment yesterday for the last time, I sang:
Adventure Time, come on tell your friends
Let’s go to very distant lands
With Ghost the dog and Joe the human
The fun will never end
It’s adventure time
You can sing that song and make it sound kind of sad. Or you can sing it and remember that now you’re not bound to the DC area anymore. Not just by decision, but also by circumstance.
So I’m staying with friends for about 2 weeks. Then I’m heading down to NC to stay with my Mom for a bit. I have interviews and part time work lined up. But this might be the end of me living in the DC area.