Ooh, togetherness. All the romance of together-ing across the USA was shot. Scabies, ya killed it. When you are grumpy and flaming with itchiness, sometimes all you want is a few moments alone to scream and flail or what have you but too dang bad, because home is the front seat of the car, smushed next to your itchy, grumpy boyfriend, and you all must continue to plow across the prairie in search of insecticide, doomed to itch and smush way too close together for seemingly forever.
I spazzed out one morning after calling every free clinic in Kansas and being directed to shelters and then panicked when Nigh yawned that everything sounded “boring and shitty,” and when I tried to get him to look at the road map with me and think about where we would drive from here, he said, “I don’t really care what we do. All I really want to do is lay down and die.”
“I’m starting to feel like what your dad said when he was feeling all sorry for us and for people who live in their car,” I whined. “I don’t wanna live outta the car anymore. This is not fun. This is not fun.”
I’d been feeling unsexy and bleccch before we’d set out on this trip; constantly feeling hundreds? thousands? of live bugs crawl around inside me definitely did not help boost my confidence. I curled back up in my ball, scooting my blobbish, blue self as far from Nigh as I could; and Nigh drove and drove that long solemn stretch west (I don’t drive, so he does it all), while I wrote in my journal:
March 16, 2014
“I don’t WANT to be a scuzzy scabies freak anymore,” I say when we wake up behind a church and Nigh takes a leak on the church and afterwards we drive to the Conoco, where I stumble into the women’s restroom with my boots half-off ’cause my boot was rubbing against a blister on my ankle and afterwards I look in the mirror and I can’t recognize what I am, with a face all sullen and and ashy grey and bloated and fish-belly white.
Later that day:
Walking through the enormous Kum-and-Go gas station with the semi truck stuffed with black angus cows mooing bluely through their slots. If you drive closer, you can see glimpses of their dull anguished faces…and I had taken off my blue tights and my blue kneesocks because I could feel the scabies clinging to the nylon and swarming up my legs to feast and so I had taken off as much clothing as I could and now just had my Jenny Holzer original t-shirt with bold red PROTECT ME FROM WHAT I WANT…
We’d pause at every midsize town in Kansas we passed, searching for the free clinic, always getting the same response—no!—before crawling sheepishly back into Home to continue west, to the next town. Nigh continued to hold the belief that if we just stumbled upon the right kind souls, our luck would surely change. “They have zillions of tubes behind the counter!” he’d rant. “They should stop following the rules like some robots, stop saying, Oh yes, I have the cream right here, mmm-hm, we’re so sorry but no you can’t have some ya bum…and just HAND US SOME CREAM! It’s not like we’re doing anything wrong! All we’re trying to do here is NOT INFECT THE ENTIRE MIDWEST with our contagious disease! What are we doing wrong?!” I threw a few temper tantrums myself, directed at nothing in particular. Finally, Nigh, who’d stayed relatively sweet and upbeat for most of the drive, lost his cool…
March 18, 2014
“How does it feel to be a crazy person?” Nigh asks me.
“It’s all right—it’s an experience,” I answer after it’s all over and we’ve cooled down. Last night/this morning was a shit show. We were up until five in the morning researching scabies treatment and up trying to stay up drinking cup after cup of coffee and a small fries in the 24-hour restaurant until we’d be tired enough to pass out in the car because Home is all fucked with the hippie boxes plus all the banana peels turning brown on the floor and the Sunbelt granola wrappers and the snot-filled napkins and Kleenex accumulated from our colds jumping out. And when it was time to sleep out in the Walmart parking lot, Nigh, exhausted, started throwing all the stuff into the front seat, and I guess I was just standing there, unhelpful, watching him. But it’s just that he starts moving so fast and with such anger that it is NOT very appealing to help, or I guess I feel like I wouldn’t be able to move so fast so I don’t know I just sat there as he frantically began throwing boxes and trash bags up into the air and his gestures are heavy and tired and mad and then finally he screamed AAAAAAAAAAAHHHHH! And an explosion yelling AAAAAAAAAAAAH AAAAH!!!! afterwards he will say that he just wanted to smash and kill everything smash all the windows and it was taking all his effort not to smash and AAAAAHHH! And my reaction—to get quieter and shrink into the trash-seat—is probably not too helpful. I stare blankly at the anger.
AAAAAAAAH!!!! and that is how we fell asleep, in another Walmart parking lot. And in the morning, I elbowed my way out of the bag and sped to the Supercenter to piss and afterwards slipped back in the bag and Nigh half-cozy put his arm on me and pressed his scabies-crotch against my scabies-crotch sleepily and I elbowed him again and elbowed him off of me saying “git yer scabies-dick off of me!” elbow elbow elbow at which point Nigh jumps up again and out of the car and yells AAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHH!!! for all of Walmart to hear AAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHH! and he slams the car door and huffs to the super-center and I sidle up in the baggie, plenty of room to stretch out, and then see him stomping up back towards me, GET OUTTA THE CAR! He screams ‘scuse me? I say GET OUTTA THE CAR awww c’mon get back in here with me NO NO NO GET OUTTA HERE I CAN’T SLEEP I HAVE NOWHERE TO SIT WHERE CAN I GO I CAN’T BELIEVE YOU HOW MUCH SLEEP DID I GET YOU WOKE ME UP HOW MUCH SLEEP DID I GET TWO HOURS TWO HOURS IS NOT ENOUGH SLEEP TO DRIVE OVER THE ROCKIES…
and soccer mom families stared at us like we are crazies and I started to cry.
In the end we gave in, bought the cream (got part of the cost subsidized by a clinic in calm blue Colorful Colorado), rubbed it in, and then gift-wrapped the car in trash bags so any vagrant creepers couldn’t crawl from the seats back into our skins again. Then, we sat together on top of our trash-bag-wrapped trash, and continued to drive.
So far as I know, we managed to contain the infestation to Home—good citizens we are, we did not infect the communards and we did not infect the Midwest. Killed the bugs. Last March was trying as all hell, though in retrospect, traveling with Nigh in Home with scabies was also kinda hilarious and wonderful and terribly tragically fun and absurd. Sometimes I’m crummy in my head, and my internal dialogue is just spinning, and then something physically gross happens to my body, like scabies. By the time that passes, everything feels pretty easy, and I feel grateful and and not-too-stuck-in-my-self. But if you ever get scabies, don’t waste a second: Kill the bugs ASAP, or those creeps will colonize your warm spots. ♦