I had a dream the other night that woke me feeling covered in spiders. As my eyelids peeled open to face the new day, I had the memory of spiders surrounding me. Their tiny legs crawling over me. As my eyes continued to adjust to the sunlight peeking through my curtains, I realised there were no spiders around and the ground was safe to walk on. I pulled back my comforter and swung my legs over the edge of the bed, first the right, then the left. Placing each foot in my half- strategically placed slippers. I reached towards the end of my bed for my robe and wrapped myself in it before blindly going into the kitchen to put the kettle on for coffee, spiders still dancing somewhere in my subconscious, but not clearly understanding why.
I find spiders fascinating. I love looking at them. I once stared so closely at a tarantula in New Mexico that the man watering his garden nearby found the need to warn me not to get to close because ‘these big furry arachnids are known to jump onto their prey.’ I imagined it covering my face in a not so friendly embrace and I slowly stood up, backing away, while still keeping him in a safe distance for viewing. The man also said that the male tarantulas tend to come out at dusk for their evening stroll, looking for a drink in the water trailing down into the streets, left over from newly watered lawns. He said they were getting themselves killed, run over by cars. The females tended to search for water at a time that cars driving by wouldn’t run them over. I’m not sure what time of the day or night this might be. I cannot recall.
I do recall the way a tarantula walks. His legs lift and crinkle and they slowly take turns unfolding with each step. It’s difficult to describe without putting my hand on the table and unfolding my fingers on their way over to you. Sure, it sounds creepy. But I found it very engaging.
I don’t tend to spend much of my free time with spiders. And as much as I am taken in by them, I also don’t want to imagine them crawling into any of my orifices during the night while I am sleeping. I don’t like imagining them crawling down my spine and I would be sure to jump if one landed on me or if I woke to find one on the pillow as my neighbour. I especially don’t like the poisonous kind, in which I grew up hearing about. The Black Widow. The Brown Recluse. The ones I can’t name that created webs which glittered with diamonds in the morning dew on Saipan Island that were sure to be the end of me if they were ever to find their way close to my skin.
During my morning walks to school I look up at the fluorescent lights guiding my way through the tunnels under the streets, leading to the river. They have been empty since the cold weather set in, months ago. They used to be the background to an underworld of arachnids. Each spider’s web, a small community sprawled from one corner to the next. Their shadows dancing on the walls of the tunnel when the wind came through for a visit. At first I was startled by them and the chance that they might decide to hitch a ride to work with me in the morning. But then I began to find myself walking slowly through the tunnel as I watched their habits. Sometimes I had the rare opportunity to see other insects stuck in their web, then there was the rare occasion that I would spot a spider moving towards its’ prey, about to devour it.
I began to find solace in these creatures. They were there, by my side, when no one else was. I looked forward to seeing them. They lead a life in solitude and I had felt that I could relate to that here. Once winter hit and the snow and icy cold winds took over, the spiders went into hiding. I don’t know where they went and I didn’t know when they would be back. But on that morning that the spiders visited me in my dreams, I looked up as I walked quickly through the tunnel on my way to school. Tiny spiders were inching out and building their webs into florescent villages once again.