I’m scared that an ant is going to crawl into my vagina. Honestly, I really am. Every time I use the toilet, I have to check under the seat before sitting down. Sometimes, when too many antennas pop up from the rim of the bowl, I just pee standing up, my best girl version of it anyway.
When Josh and I moved to Bali, we were most impressed by our house. The bathroom was outside and we could take hot showers while it rained. Everything was wooden and the walls looked like a woven basket. The mosquito net around the bed made me feel like a princess and the idea that the house itself wasn’t exactly sealed felt exotic, like we were part of nature. Coconut trees shielded us from neighbors and during hot afternoons, we swam naked in our private pool.
Waking up to natural sunlight and religious chanting somewhere beyond the rice fields, I felt incredibly lucky those first few mornings. I really felt it, the old cliché “one with nature.” Rolling out of bed in nothing but skin and tasseled hair, I stretched outside by the fish pond and walked to the bathroom to rub coconut oil into my skin and brush my teeth while looking at my freckles in the natural lit mirror.
We posted photos of the house online, boasted to our family and friends and didn’t neglect to remind each other how amazing the place was through victory dances and song.
All of this, started to change. A few weeks in and everything we loved about the house started to make us cringe. Our exotic nature palace started to feel a whole lot more like camping. We discovered at least three different ant species living in the bed, treating our sleeping bodies like mere obstacles in one of those ant farms you get as a kid. Some of them bit and the only morning stretches I did were to bend down and scratch open the bites on my ankles until they bled.
I watched a wasp build her nest in the ceiling of my bedroom and wasn’t surprised by the gecko who walked across my floor to catch a moth in mid-flight. Lizards rattle around the dirty dishes in the kitchen sink and the two giant geckos who live in the rafters often hide behind our picture frames when the sun gets too hot.
While each morning used to begin with a worship of natural light and new day, I now find myself double rinsing my toothbrush of ants before brushing my teeth. A spider does an intimidation dance at his reflection while I brush my hair in the mirror and I always double check my towel before getting in the shower as I’m sure I saw some legs creeping around before.
I can’t even leave a glass of water on the table while I use the toilet because I come back to an ant’s day at the pool. In fact, I opened a kitchen drawer the other day and was met with an infestation of them attached to the wooden side like a swarm of bees on their hive.
Even when we leave home, and take the motorbike path away from the house, we have to inch along, always looking out for the suicidal frogs. We call it Frog Alley but once saw a spider hopping along. It was so big that it cast a shadow on the pavement. I later saw a similar spider on the roof of our living room and was so scared that I couldn’t fall asleep until 3 am. To avoid walking under it to get to the toilet, I found a jar in my closet and peed into it three times in between emptying it out the window. After rinsing it out, I’ve decided to keep it in my bedroom in case any more of these incidences arise.
Just today I discovered that a frog lives on the side of our pool and had a gecko jump out from a pile of clothes in our closet. While reading a book on the couch, I nearly rolled off in surprise at the prehistoric looking bird that was creeping towards me from under the coffee table. Even that was not as startling as the baby frog that I shook out of my running shoes before a jog.
Now, we have one month left in the house and remind ourselves of that with every new ant bite and surprise lizard. The truth is, this place is still as beautiful as it was in the beginning and the real intruders are us. All of the other creatures, they were here first.