At home, my parents like to leave the windows open. In the winter, the open windows circulate the stale, heated air, even if the incoming draft is cold enough to overtax the inefficient central heating system. In the summer, we open them in hope of a draft and wait for fresh cooling breezes that wick away heat and sunlight.
Opening a window, like anything else we do in the world, carries its own hazards. Of course, all of our windows have sturdy, insect-proof screens. Of course, the functionality of those screens is dubious at best. While open windows in the winter just means you should put on a pair of socks, open windows in the summer signifies the onslaught of exoskeleton wielding invertebrates with neatly sectioned bodies.
The bug problem is not severe enough to merit any real intervention. (For actual insect issues that pose public health violations, see ants or roaches or bed bugs.) However, it is noticeable to those who do not qualify to be listed as members of the household on federal tax returns. After trying to explain to my friends to relax whenever something zooms across the downstairs living room, I have long realized that I am desensitized to most bugs that are smaller than a toddler’s fingernail, such as moths or crickets. In fact, because I have watched Mulan too many times as a child, I regard crickets with a tolerant affection. They hop and chirp. Their only misfortune is that they are crickets and not canaries. Even centipedes, while horrendous and frightening, do eat other equally horrendous and frightening creatures, so as long as they are far, far away, they can stay too.
However, the really frightening moments occur when I’m reading or sitting in front of my computer when out of the corner of my eye, something scuttles across the floor. For example, just five minutes ago, I saw something that looked suspiciously like a spider sprint across the carpet. I hopped off my bed to investigate, and (here’s the truly frightening part) nothing was there. The spider, which was the size of a dollar coin, had run towards the wall next to my closet. My walls are white, and my carpet is a light lavender. The main point: There is no possible way for a spider to disappear without a trace in such an environment.
Why is this moment “really frightening”? As desensitized as I am to bugs, spiders, etc., they are only innocuous if:
a.) I know exactly where they are.
b.) They are small in size. Really small.
c.) They do not appear to be poisonous or particularly gross looking.
The spider, of course, fulfilled none of these qualifications. Another unsettling thing to consider was that my mind made this whole thing up. The spider could have been a nervous manifestation, a symptom of an eye disorder, something signifying that I should see a health care professional. Thus, I am left terrified that an unidentified, probably large, and possibly venomous spider will attack me in my sleep (or that I should get my eyes checked).
I’ve written this post, and so far, I have not seen any more signs of life in my bedroom. While not a good sign, it is not a bad one either. Tomorrow, I’m going to start closing some windows.
Update: I found the spider. It had spun a web in between a stack of books, across from the wall where it had disappeared. I promptly dispatched my father to extract it from my room, so all is well.