If you know me, you know that I’m not really afraid of spiders. In fact, since moving to the city two years ago, it’s not unheard of for me to say something like, “I miss my spider friends.” They just don’t hang out in city windows and door frames as much as they do in the suburbs or out in the country, and I miss them. It’s odd. I know.
Today, I happened upon a journal entry from 2012 that tells the story about how spiders and I. Full disclosure, I made some edits as I transferred this from my journal to these here internets, but the voice is still pretty strongly 2012 Sarah Karnes. Here:
When I was a girl, I would sit and watch spiders go about their business. I always considered time spent in their company, watching their web weaving, as time well spent. Sometimes I would linger after their work was done to see what they did in their downtime. It turns out, they mostly just sit in dark corners and wait for unassuming and innocent flies to take a wrong winged right turn into their gossamer spires.
These spiders made their homes on the outside of our second-story windows, which were divided by brown panes into three: two perfect squares topped by a large rectangle. It was in those bottom squares that the spiders made their homes. The panes provided unparalleled support, certainly better than any breezy branches or bending grass blades. The panes also served as a perfect perch for the spiders to crouch in their silent hunt. Some spiders would stay in our windows almost a month, square and sufficient as they were. I’d check in on them, see how they were doing. In some sort of girlish morbidity, I would watch with excitement whenever an unsuspecting fly would find itself entwined in the spider’s web. The spider would slowly emerge from its corner, using its many legs to gauge the fly’s location. Then, with light rapidity, the spider was on the struggling fly, wrapping it with sheer spider-wire that layered and grew white as the nimble and macabre scene played out. Then, stillness, as the spider drank life from limb. I would sit, fascinated.
On some of my more curious and mischievous days, I’d explore the webby homes of garden spiders, the ones that stayed in the yard, not venturing to windowed heights like their cousins. These spiders could undoubtedly spot my approach from a distance: here comes girl, unafraid. Plucking a grass blade or a leafy bit, and with my face close, I’d toss the decoy into the spider’s house. Some would pounce, only to be met with hungry disappointment. Others, like a retriever often tricked into fetching a ball not thrown, would roll they’re multiple eyes in disgust, staying firmly planted center web.
Once, I worked up the courage to touch the orblike abdomen of one such garden spider. He was firmly established on a stretched web outside of our old playhouse. I slowly approached, knowing that no harm would befall me in my innocent need to feel. With a quivering hand and a sense of true bravery (I might as well have been fighting one of history’s violent hoards), I reached out and gently brushed the spider’s body. I yanked my hand back with a nervous giggle as soon as I’d made contact. I had touched a spider and lived to tell it. The spider didn’t seem to mind. Perhaps it was warmed by the ambassadorial greeting from cruel humanity. And, all fear demolished between myself and the creature, I touched it again. This time actually petting it like a child would a cat’s nose. It was soft and orange with red shapes patterning the whole of it. It reminded me of the time I pet a boa constrictor; there was no rough scaly skin, only structured smoothness. It became sort of a habit, and for a while, I was the girl that touched spiders and liked it,