I'd like to dedicate this post to Stan. He's the gargantuan spider who lived comfortably outside my window this summer. During my months of studying for the bar exam, it was just Stan and me. Every.single. day.
A wolf pack of two.*
I had to name him so that I wouldn't gag every time I gazed out the window and his gigantic furry body blocked my beautiful view. (And I do mean "block" - he's really that large.) Personification always helps make something (or someone) less awful and annoying. That's probably why the first parents decided to name their kids instead of just assigning them a number. And so, I named the eight-legged beast "Stan" and a Charlotte's-Web-ian friendship was born.
I suppose I did need a friend to keep me from going completely crazy as I studied in isolation for 12 hours a day. I would have preferred a friend that didn't make my skin crawl (although let's face it, we've all got a couple of those anyway). But beggars can't be choosers...it was either Stan or the dry cleaning woman downstairs who only speaks English to me to ask "When you have baby."I can only handle that a few dozen times a day, so - heyyyyy Stan.
Let's back up a moment: I reside in urbanity on a high floor of a high rise building. When I first moved here, I told myself that insects and arachnids would never be present in my home again because they simply wouldn't be able to crawl up to this altitude. Like many philosophers, I chose to ignore logic and scientific research when crafting my theory.
The first week of our first summer here crushed my flimsy hypothesis. Apparently, the swashbuckling explorer spiders balloon onto high rise balconies and rooftops at the first hint of warm weather, and immediately set up small villages to which all of their lazier spider relatives casually immigrate throughout the remainder of the summer. In an abstract sense, this is incredible. In a real sense, this is devastating to a girl who doesn't care for spiders. After witnessing the invasion, I immediately returned the 57 varieties of herbs I had obtained for my planned vertical garden and refused to set foot on the balcony for the remainder of the summer. Less dramatically, my husband adopted a "we can live together" attitude, and nonchalantly grilled burgers and brats as spiders hung inches above his head. I always knew he was brave, but THAT - that was something.
The next summer, my husband chucked his kum-by-ya attitude and sprayed the entire balcony with uber toxic chemicals before spider season began. The burgers may have tasted a little funny that year and I felt oddly lethargic, but hey - no spiders!!
We're back to kum-by-ya this year. Not by choice, but because we were out of town during the 72-hour window of time where it was warm enough to spray but the spiders hadn't ballooned yet. So once again, I resigned myself to the reality of the Occupy Balcony movement. I don't go out there, they don't come in here, and we just glare hatefully at each other through the glass.
Until Stan. Stan broke all of the rules. Stan decided that he didn't want to live in the kibbutz, but would prefer his own millionaire's compound away from the masses. Unlike the other spiders, who were probably sick of the congestion too, Stan had cojones.
You see, once the other spiders complete their annual daring feat of ballooning onto our balcony, they are content to sit back and drink margs for the rest of the season. They hang safely from the rails or eaves of the balcony, where they can frolic and doze, and if there's a misstep, the forgiving concrete of the balcony will catch them.
But not Stan. He set up shop from a tiny concrete overhang directly outside our living room window - and there's no railing or balcony to catch him. It's a looooooong ways down. Just thinking about it makes me get twitchy. And yet there he was, day after day, literally hanging by a thread.
During those mind-numbing days of studying for the bar, I started to see Stan as a symbol of hope - that he clearly had complete faith in his homespun web, in his God-given talents. Perhaps there was a correlation here for me in believing I could pass the bar! It was a new feeling within me when I looked at Stan - extreme revulsion, begrudging respect, and inspiration.
Is it merely a coincidence that Stan disappeared permanently from his home shortly after the bar exam? I think not! He's never even written. Sometimes I might even miss him. But then I look out onto our balcony and see his lazy cousins growing fatter by the day.
I'm not naming them.
Until next time,
*Sorry, imaginary readers, this will not be my only The Hangover reference.