I tell myself lies. This is what I’ve learned from my few months in Baltimore. Don’t get me wrong, they’re not big lies, just little white lies. The kind that help your psyche manage until it can handle the truth.

Two summers ago, I spent a few weeks in Baltimore taking classes for my degree. Baltimore is not what you would call a “safe” city. It’s got its issues with violent crime. I remember my roommates at the time giving me detailed instructions on which streets I could walk up and which I could not. Basically, I could walk a straight line to a main drag and then turn to catch the bus. So, that’s the route I walked for five weeks. The same route; I never deviated from it.

On my walk to school in the morning, I usually navigated around smashed bugs on the pavement. Those poor beetles I thought. They seemed to live quite a perilous life on the street. Toward dusk when I’d walk home, the little beetles would be out scurrying across the sidewalk and hovering in the cracks. Man that’s a lot of beetles, I thought. Where do they all come from? But, I didn’t give the beetles too much thought. They went about their business and I about mine. My last night, however, when I was starting to feel more comfortable with the neighborhood I went out with my roommates. We were out late and while walking back to the house, droves of beetles scampered around. With the flip-flop of my sandals lulling me into the security of a warm summer night, I heard my roommates talking about cockroaches. Cockroaches? Why are they talking about cockroaches? And, that’s when it hit.

My beetles were not beetles at all. They were cockroaches. Nasty, disgusting cockroaches.

Fast forward to present day: I’m living in Baltimore again. This time I’ve got a room in a residential neighborhood in a fairly safe area. I stick to the same route every day though, which includes cutting across a big open field. When I first moved in, I heard birds at night. That’s strange, I thought. I didn’t know of any bird species active at night. But boy, did they make a racket. I need to look up the birds native to Maryland, I thought. They’ve got an unusual species that only comes out at night. This is what I’ve been telling myself for nearly three months now. A few nights ago, however, they were making a ton of racket. While crossing the big open field and pondering those night birds, it clicked.

My birds were not birds at all. They were bats. Holy cow, they ARE bats. And, they are everywhere.

I’m not sure what this says about me, except that maybe I’m deranged. But, I find it comforting that my psyche is looking out for me in strange and bizarre ways even if it does change cockroaches into beetles and bats into birds.

So, what about you? Have you ever told a white lie to yourself?

3 Responses to “The lies we tell ourselves”

  1. Jeannie says:

    I’m not sure if it’s the little white lies or your top-notch observation skills: wind in chicago, earthquake in china, lightning in vietnam…

  2. Jodi says:

    Oh sure, point out the flaws in my theory. I guess I’m developing quite the collection of stories with the same theme. There was that time in Chicago where I mistook a tornado for a windstorm and that time in Thailand where I mistook an earthquake for just being deliriously tired (I thought the shaking was in my head and went to bed while the hotel evacuated), and then that time in Madagascar when the rumbling heard in the distance didn’t cause any concern until the storm was upon us and we were left running through a rice field with lightning crashing around us. Yes, perhaps this theme points to more than just white lies. Naivety? unobservant? I don’t know, but I prefer my white lie theory just the same. :-)

  3. Mariya says:

    When I moved to Alabama I got to experience your “beetles”. I knew they were roaches though. Once I was kept up all night watching one walk around on my bedroom mini-blinds. I sat at the head of my bed and planned out how long it would take for me to pack all my stuff and leave. When I woke up in the morning, still crunched at the head of the bed, the roach was wandering in circles in my bathroom (turns out the roach was poisoned but I didn’t know the behavior yet). I dropped my biochem book on it and then spent two weeks walking around my biochem book when I needed to pee or brush my teeth. I almost flunked biochemistry since I couldn’t use my book to study.