Suburban Jungle

I moved back to Chapel Hill a few weeks ago to attend UNC and ‘become’ an educated woman, and, it being a pretty small college town – particularly with all the students not yet moved back in from winter break – I figured the transition would be smooth, peaceful, uneventful. Like most other times in life, I guessed wrong.

My mother and sister helped move my clothes in and decided, after looking around my room, that I didn’t have enough “ambiance”(clearly something that is required to maintain an adequate GPA). A shopping trip to grab lamps, paintings, and throws was required. Three hours later we were madly hammering on the walls of my cute, Carolina-blue, little room trying to prove ourselves the independent and capable women we are and earning a few bruised thumbs for our efforts.

Ambiance before all hell broke loose.

The last photo was hung and my mom and sister ditched, their job complete. I had changed into my pajamas and settled in for another hour or two of organizing when I heard something. I spun around and witnessed my pillows moving… by themselves. I shrieked, grabbed my phone and ran to my bedroom door, keeping my eyes on my bed, just in case whatever was causing the movement came after me.

When my mom picked up the phone a few frantic moments later, the only words I got out was a panicked “Hi, Momma, something’s in my room,” before choking on my own fear and leaving my mom bewildered and a little bit believing that her daughter was about to die. Thirty seconds later, after hearing me explain what happened and realizing it was something, not someone, my mother essentially told me to woman up and get back in there. My only option was to figure out what exactly was my unwelcome roommate.

The bed was carefully pulled away from the wall, which backs up to an open cavity where a chimney used to be, and I snuck over to one side, armed with a hammer and keeping a watch out for any movement – but none came. I whispered into the phone, “Nothing’s there. Maybe I was just imagining it?” And then I spotted it – a section of the wall was warped, with a little crevice in it, which pretty much nothing could fit through, but I also wasn’t taking my chances. I tapped on the wall with the hammer and then jumped twenty feet (potentially an exaggeration) and screamed like a banshee (not an exaggeration) after hearing a feral hiss and a slithering sound from the other side of the wall.

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Now tell me you wouldn’t be afraid.

My mind went worst case scenario: There is a monstrous, evil snake on the other side of this plywood piece of crap wall and it is one flick of its devil-tipped tail from knocking down that wall and eating me whole. My greatest fear in the whole world, other than dying alone and loveless, is snakes. Of any type. The snake could be literally minuscule and nonvenomous and I will still hate it with all of my being. And as I stood at the door planning on leaving the house never to return, shaking with fear and maybe a little adrenaline, I recalled that I had to re-enter that room, be a grown-up, and pack for a business trip I would be taking the following morning. I whispered to myself – and to the snake – “Oh hell no.”

I brainstormed the situation – show up clad in fuzzy pants and a sweatshirt and tell my bosses I’d left all my business-appropriate clothing in a snake-infested room? Probably grounds for immediate dismissal and so into the snake’s den we go. I’m not even going to sugarcoat my own wimpiness – I shed at least three tears walking back into that room and had to call people and talk to them to avoid thinking about my impending doom. I packed a bag, threw on winter-appropriate boots with my not weather-appropriate PJs (North Carolina had just experienced one of its semi-annual snowstorms), and called a friend to come pick me up so that the snake could catch its beauty sleep and I could rest in peace.

I returned the following morning – having forgotten crucial elements of my clothing – with a friend. We dared to bang on the wall and yet again heard a hissing noise. This time the wall moved so much that we both jumped, even if we were expecting it. I flew to Florida dreading returning to my new home, honestly believing it had been taken over. However, return I did, four days later. I crept up to the wall and tentatively rapped. Nothing. No noises, no movement.

Given that the animal is gone, we’re all going to assume it was a possum or raccoon. I’d much rather share my abode with a rabid beast than with a snake. I can’t say it’s all been smooth sailing – that first night of sleep was mostly tossing and turning and I’ve woken up from more than one nightmare of having random critters crawling on me. The chimney has been capped, and I’m having that wall repaired pronto. Call me paranoid, but having experienced the suburban jungle, I’d rather not have a repeat.

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Still better than a snake.

Trying to learn two languages, take all my classes, work, and still have a social life is decidedly eating into my writing. My (in)sincerest apologies. I’ll be back when my fingers regain feeling. XoXx, only Fernweh because Food has given up

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