I’ve never been one of those squeamish girls. I was the girl playing with worms while fishing with my dad, letting their slimy wriggly bodies curl through my fingers. I was the girl fascinated by the impromptu biology dissection after my second grade teacher hit a pheasant on her way to work. I was the girl who (in all likelihood) ate a slug as a toddler, probably from sheer curiosity. I was (and still am) the girl who will relocate a spider rather than shriek and run or smash it.
But that doesn’t mean I’m entirely immune to being a little creeped out from time to time. My mom can likely clearly recall one particular phone call shortly after she moved into her new house and described a mass of black ants crawling in her house, multiplying by the second. I asked her to stop then grew more and more emphatic. The idea of all those ants made my skin crawl!
But that’s no longer the case. After a year in Ghana, ants just make me shrug. They are omnipresent in my life. They swarm food left out after only minutes.
And when disturbed they scatter quickly, reassembling a line of escape.
This morning as I added honey to my tea I noticed the ring of dead ant corpses ringing the lid. And then remembered cleaning the lid yesterday with a finger, likely ingesting plenty of dead ants in the process. But that idea made me shrug, completely unconcerned. At times, laying in bed an ant will dash across my arm. Where it came from I can’t be sure but their surprise and inexplicable appearance again, illicits only a shrug.
Another frequent visitor in my life are the lizards. This lizard was living amongst my art supplies (out of focus, back right)
They frequently dash across my walls. Apart from being briefly startling they do no harm. There’s one in particular who lives in my bedroom though I’m not sure where exactly. Nightly around 5:00 he comes out from behind my closet door and travels the walls to the window. I think his name is Franklin.
There are spiders the size of coasters, foot long lizards and the occasional mouse more startled than I am. But I shrug.
However, there are moments that still creep me out a little.
This is a bowl of flour. The dark specks are weevils. What you can’t see clearly are the larvae. After a year here it is still disconcerting when my dough is wriggling. I usually take the time sifting out the bugs and larvae, wasting more flour than saving. I told a Peace Corps friend that I had done this because I really wanted to make brownies. Her response was “I’m proud of you. I usually don’t bother.” Yes, Peace Corps makes us all a bit less squeamish.