Attic Bats, Modern Love

Embracing a fear of the unknown.

  • Later that day my landlord left a message saying he was “sending his bat man over.” I loved everything about that sentence.
    Photo by Getty Images/Olgait
  • What surprised me about fainting was the seamless transition between the two states. For the moments I was unconscious in Jamaica, nothing felt out of the ordinary. I think death will be similar.
    Photo by Getty Images/Birdhunter591

In my mind, all leather-bound books have full mustaches and conservative values. Their smell can establish any room as an office, but I’m not a fan of their overall aesthetic. I’d recently moved with my boyfriend, Abe, and his lot of old books, into a crumbly house in Morgantown. With him in law school and me in graduate school, moving felt a bit like transporting a library. When we were unpacking, he lined the top shelf of my bookcase with the kind of antique legal publications that look perpetually dusty and mean.

“I don’t really care. I just hate those books. But we can keep them there if you want,” I said. I’m trying to be more comprising. I’m 23 and it’s our second year living together. He makes me embarrassingly happy, so I’m trying to budge on more issues. “Or just move all my journals and then the bottom shelf can be for your undusted books.”

“Come look at this,” Abe said. He didn’t seem interested in my shelving system. He pointed at a small black mass under a huge antique journal. It resembled a shriveled-up portabella mushroom. He lifted the journal to reveal a small bat carcass.

I decided that I was done unpacking for the day. I ran upstairs to listen to Woody Guthrie and reestablish my enthusiasm for our new home in West Virginia.

Our orange attic was enormous and full of comfy old leather couches. There were two nooks with bay windows that jutted out from the main room. We each got one for our easels and paints. Upstairs on the couch I googled, “What should I do if I find a dead bat in my house?” This counts as helping, I thought. Before that moment, I had never considered dying of rabies. Yahoo Answers changed that. I yelled down to Abe, who was still unpacking, and asked if he noticed any other signs of bats. He walked upstairs and told me this was the second dead bat he’d found. I threw myself on the floor.

I met Abe five years ago when I was a freshman in college. We spent a year being awful to each other and talking about books. The next year we indulged ourselves in complications. I spent the following year or so traveling around India and France, trying to become my authentic self. We finally got back together two years ago. This was the nine-millionth iteration of us and by far the best.

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