In March 2021, I started seeing news articles about Cicadas that were expecting to surface this summer. I was shocked to learn some insects spent 17 years underground and would make an appearance over the summer. I brought it up to a co-worker and was utterly horrified and disgusted by the fact where we work (Princeton), there would be a massive amount of these beasts flying around to torment us. (Not really torment, that’s me being dramatic).
I am originally from the west coast, and this isn’t a phenomenon that happens there. The months building up to the cicada reveal brought a little more anxiety each day. I have a thing about insects. I can’t stand the thought of stepping on them and hearing them crunch under my feet or see them smashed. It causes me to gag. So, I had a plan. When I walked from my car to the building, which was roughly a 6-minute walk, I worked in; I’d walk in the street if I had to. At the time, I didn’t know cicadas could freaking fly. So fast forward to now. The cicadas are in full force; they are everywhere: trees, street, sidewalk, and the sky. When driving, I keep my windows up because they will fly into the car.
Cicadas are harmless, but…it’s their prehistoric look and size that is disarming and the fact there are millions of them. The mating call of the cicadas feels as if it’s vibrating my soul. I am currently on vacation, but I almost had a panic attack the last time I was at work. I couldn’t breathe, and it felt as if my heart was beating out of my chest. That is what the presence of cicadas does to me. I also felt as if I was going to jump out of my skin. So yes, I have encountered anxiety before, but not for something like this.
I bought screens for my car window to have my windows down on my lunch break. If I chose to brave the walk to my car, I pull my hair into a clip to prevent any surprises and wear a hat to cover my hair and ears. If I had a hazmat suit and I could wear it without horrifying my co-workers and students, I’d wear that too. I have no shame. I have seen people get creative with keeping the cicadas off them, but it goes a little deeper than them landing on me. I still can’t step on them, so I’m walking on my tiptoes, which means I’ll have some well-toned calves when this is over, at least. The sound is a factor too. The louder it is, means the more there are, and that messes with my psyche.
A year from now, I’ll be able to laugh this summer off and talk about my adventures with the cicadas of 2021, but right now, in the midst of it no so much laughing is happening.
Until next time,