Baby Steps


For the first time in my life I am co-habitating peacefully with a spider. I have heard two extremely disconcerting statistics about spiders in my life, and while they worry me on occasion, I find comfort in my firm belief (hope?) that they are not true.

The first is that no matter where you are, there’s bound to be a spider within just a few feet of you. Apparently they are everywhere. I can believe this because I once saw a ladybug in the snow on top of Mt. St. Helens. What was she doing there? Was she lost? Was she cold? Did she miss her friends? So I don’t think it would be much of a stretch to say that a spider could be up there too, but everywhere?? I think I would see them more often, which, fortunately, I do not.

The second figure is of course the myth that humans eat up to seven spiders a year – in their sleep. I’ve heard that it is true, and I’ve heard that it’s a myth. And that’s when it comes down to personal choice. I choose to believe that it is a myth to avoid the paralyzing fear that it could be true. I, of course, do my best to fall asleep with my mouth closed. Better safe than sorry.

The spider who lives with me now is named Charles. As in Charles de Gaulle. I don’t actually know who that is – I think he designs airports? But Charles was the first name that came to mind, and de Gaulle followed shortly thereafter. It’s probably because I am currently reading a book by a North American man living in Paris, who happens to have a pet spider.

I tried to kill Charles once, but it was a half-hearted effort and I hesitated too long. He is very small, probably 1/3 the size of my thumbnail, and he’s a jumper. Later I saw him in the far corner of my room, but I was all settled in for a nap and couldn’t be bothered. He likes to hang out in the corner just above the books on my desk, and doesn’t seem to have much of an agenda – he’s content just to sit. He’s friendly enough and likes to keep to himself. Nothing about him seems particularly vicious, aside from the fact that he’s a spider, which fundamentally makes him a very real (although tiny) monster, in my opinion.

One time when I was young, I saw a big, hefty looking spider bigger than a quarter. I screamed for my brother to kill it and instead he joked about it and I literally cried hysterically. Sometimes I can’t fall asleep at night thinking about big, fist-sized spiders crawling toward my face in the dark. It’s just one of those challenges we all face, I suppose.

So having Charles as a roommate and really not even caring is a huge milestone in my life, and I think cause for celebration. And yet, it feels perfectly normal. I hope he eats lots of mosquitoes for me – although if he gets too big, I’ll either have to kill him, or move out.

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