I went to my internship and I noticed I had some bites on my arm. What I know now is that three lines of bites — just like the ones I saw on my arm, were the tell-tale sign of bed bugs. But I assumed they were mosquito bites and didn’t think much of it.
When I came home from screening my first film, I noticed bed bugs in my apartment. I went to my landlord and he suggested bringing in a dog to sniff out bed bugs. The dog didn’t find anything so I thought nothing of it once again.
It all felt real when my roommate and I captured our first bed bug that night. Me and my roommate had seen them around the apartment and we lured one into a glass to prove we weren’t going crazy. We officially had bed bugs.
Calling the exterminator in the middle of my 8-hour class was just the beginning of the process. We had to throw away hardcover books, bed frames, mattresses and move all other furniture six inches away from the wall.
The process also took an emotional toll. Every time I’d walked into my room, I had gloves on, plastics around my feet, clothes that I knew I’d throw away. I had to throw most of my stuff away and had dropped off all my clothes at the laundromat, where they charged me $800 to have my things cleaned. I was also ashamed — did having bed bugs mean I was dirty or messy?
Once I was done cleaning, I went into the bathroom and cried.
The exterminator arrived at 5:30 a.m. the following Monday and it was quick. He came in a full suit and I left for class.
Even though the bed bugs were gone, I can never go back to normal. I didn’t want to be home anymore — I didn’t feel safe there. Even when I moved, I didn’t have much around the house and made sure furniture never touched the walls. I kept plastic bags over my bed frame and put baby powder inside every month or so. I only use light colored sheets and wash my things far too often.
It’s hard to find somewhere you truly call home in NYC, and having bed bugs made it impossible to ever get comfortable.
I still spend my time reading up on blogs dedicated to bed bug encounters, and found an online community on Reddit comprised of people who have battled infestations. Even in my darkest time, I find comfort in knowing that if anything happens again, I’ll be ready to fight it.