unwanted company

The woman who used to live in our apartment was alone when she moved in. I don't think she was lonely for long, though, because a colony of mold soon grew in the bathroom--a quiet creature to keep her company. I think the landlord felt badly about evicting this unobtrusive roommate, and instead opted to caulk over her. Just a thin coat, to look clean from half a mile away.

However, the mold and I have had a much more volatile relationship. I cringe every time I drop my girls in for a bath; I gag every time I see the stuff up close. Since we moved in, the only way I've managed a bath is in the dark with sparse candlelight. I avoid cleaning the bathroom because I know it will spiral into an afternoon-long brawl, my brow damp from vicious jabs with an old toothbrush. I. Hate. You. I grind my teeth and focus murderous rage on the black, snake-like strips that peek out of each corner. We've been at war for months, and I think I'm finally winning.

You have to relinquish your germ-ophobia to live in New York City. You simply have to get over it on some level. Your kid will touch the subway banister and then rub her eyes. God only knows what the store owners are spraying off the sidewalk every Monday morning--the same sidwalk that your children will trip and skin their knees on. Your nose is always a good detective when identifying bodily fluids that share public elevators with you and your wee ones, and I assure you--you are never alone in there.

Unfortunately, I have a double whammy. Not only do I have phobias about mold and germs, but I am at least as terrified of the chemicals used to kill them. I finally resorted to some "mold and mildew" spray for the bathroom. First, I was disappointed that it didn't seem to do anything more than my Method Tub & Tile, but then I started panicking about Lucy getting Toxic Chemical Exposure. Did I get it all wiped off my feet before I walked down the hall? Her hands will be making that trek in an hour, before they promptly return to her mouth, where they began. I had to clean the shower all over again with the non-toxic cleaners after the toxic ones, all the while not sure which I fear most: the spray-bottle carcinogens or the unwelcome roommate they claim to kill.

My roommate will not give up easily. I expect her to make frequent break-in attempts, especially in this arm-pit weather that won't allow anything to dry. But I will not be intimidated. Just because my dish-washing brush and my razor succumbed to her grasp doesn't mean I will let my spirit be broken. I will fight to the end. This home is mine.