I get to my contaminated house. I undress right inside the front door. Put on a different set of clothes. Put the other ones outside. Put whatever was left in the wash in the dryer. Go to work—drying, inspecting, sorting, bagging. When I’m done, I put the clothes I’m wearing in the washer. Take a shower. Step outside wrapped in my towel to get my clean clothes. Put them on. Leave. I have visions in my head from movies I’ve seen of decontamination chambers and chemical showers and hazmat suits.
It occurs to me to wonder what’s an acceptable level of paranoia with which to live? It’s not so much that while working in the house, I occasionally brush by something or brush off something and find myself imagining that it was that brush that swept a bed bug egg into a not yet sealed bag of clean clothes. It’s not so much that every itch is viewed with some degree of suspicion.
No, it’s that one of the exterminators told us that coming home from a trip (why not from the movies? the library?), we need to undress, throw all the clothes we were wearing in the dryer. Put our shoes and any bags we had with us in the heat chamber.
It’s the whole insurance conversation. How much will I inconvenience myself now—not for future benefit, but for possible future benefit? Because if you end up needing the benefits of having “paid for” insurance (whether that’s monetarily or with the inconveniences of heat chambers, for example), how good to have invested. But how do I tip the balance toward sensible precaution and away from excessive paranoia? Because a careful life can but a fearful life can’t constitute abundant living. How do I know where that balancing point rests?
Answers to these questions I now find even more elusive than just a week or so ago.