I’ve been scared of spiders since I was really young. I abandoned our playhouse ‘forever’ because there was a spider in it; I made my my mother pretty much tear my bedroom to bits because I couldn’t stay in there until the spider I saw earlier had been located and removed; I learned never to leave clothes on the bedroom floor after a spider laid its eggs on a pair of trousers.
My fear only got worse as I got older, with hissy-fit over-reactions at the merest hint of an arachnid. And buying a house with a garage was clearly a bad idea, because spiders. But then two things happened. First, I forced myself to watch a documentary called Spider House, which completely changed my world view of spiders. Then, I learned to face life with a more mindful, present attitude, which meant there was no need to freak out, because I am yet to meet a spider that is actually a threat.
Now, I can’t say I’m not scared (I won’t pick one up with my bare hand) but I tolerate them to the point that I become quite attached to some. I don’t mind the one who lives in my car, but I draw the line at webs on the steering wheel. I’ve made a deal with the ones in the garage – leave me alone and I’ll leave you alone. It’s working so far. I liked the one that lived behind my computer monitor at work – and not just because the flies have been horrendous this year. I would occasionally see her trapeze herself along a web that ran from the monitor to the windowsill and back again, but apart from that, she rarely moved. I was surprised to find myself sad when I found her curled up body lying lifeless on the desk.
However my ultimate spider buddy has been Bathroom Spider. He lived on the windowsill and would occasionally scarper out from under/behind something while I was cleaning. But that was fine. He was quite small and inoffensive. One day, however, when I was having a shower I lifted something – I forget what – when a small black form slid down the side of the bath and into the water. I used the corner of my towel to lift him out, then I placed him on a piece of toilet paper on the windowsill. He wasn’t moving. I felt quite ill. And annoyed. At myself – why hadn’t I been more careful and observant? At him – he lives on the windowsill, what the hell is he doing round the bath?
I recalled from Spider House that spiders form air bubbles around themselves so they can breathe in water. Maybe he still had a chance. I have never given mouth to mouth to a human being, let alone a spider, and to be honest I didn’t want to get up that close and personal with one. So I did the only other thing I could, I cupped my hands over him and gave him a doze of Reiki. Just for a minute; he was small, he wouldn’t need much. Then I had my shower. When I got out, he hadn’t moved.
When I came back through to the bathroom later, he had.
I never saw him for a couple of weeks. Not until I went into the bathroom one day and lifted the toilet lid….something tiny and black was floating on the surface of the pan…yup, here he was again. I scooped him out with a piece of toilet roll, set him on the windowsill and felt an overwhelming sense of deja vu as I gave him yet more Reiki. Could he survive a second watery escapade? I was much more doubtful this time. I didn’t know how long he had been in there, and his legs were all curled up. I left him on the windowsill and yet again hoped for the best.
When I came back through later, he had moved. I could see him this time, back behind the toothpaste tube. I ordered him to stay there.
He didn’t though. He disappeared again until last night, when I was kneeling on the floor cleaning around the sink and he scuttled across the floor directly towards me as if he were saying hello. I spoke to him in the same way I would speak to my rats, and I was delighted to see him. I put him back on the windowsill, using yet another piece of toilet roll (not brave enough for the hand yet) because I was about to wash the floor and I figured he could do without another soaking. His luck will run out sometime.
He’s since disappeared again, but I’m sure he’ll be back.