Arriving home today after a week away, I was struck by the only other living thing in the house – a spider.

This spider moved in a few months ago and has decided to set up its residence here. It first settled in my bedroom and chose a spot on the wall right above my head. I used to fear that one day it would lose its grip and just fall on me while I slept. Thankfully, that did not happen.

When it arrived, the natural instinct was to swat it because I really do have a phobia for creepy crawlies. However, the flat had been recently repainted and I really didn’t want any brown marks on it. I also thought the spider might serve a purpose by eating all the flies and mosquitoes that wonder into the house – call that paying its rent. Also, I didn’t have too much confidence in my ability to hit the target and somehow had this fear that if I missed, the spider would crawl into my bed while I slept and effect some revenge for the attempted murder. This is probably a result of too many horror movies, cartoons and children’s books. Anyway, the spider survived for all these reasons.

After a few weeks in my bedroom, this uninvited guest moved to the dining room where it settled near the window for an undefined period. I would notice it whenever I was shutting the windows in the evening. I would occasionally hit the wall or do something silly, just to make it move. I guess the spider and I learnt to share the house without getting in each other’s way and I stopped noticing it.

I went to Nairobi for a week and perhaps the spider decided it was time to shift spots, after all, there is plenty of wall space here. So, today when I switched on the passage lights, there he was, right on the wall, the only other living thing in the house apart from me.

Now that we have established a comfortable living arrangement, perhaps I should give this guest a name. The only dilemma is I cannot tell whether its male or female, but I imagine a unisex name would be quite suitable. I don’t know how long this spider intends to inhabit this house or under what circumstances it will move. Perhaps a suitable mate will emerge in spiderland and the two will start a family somewhere else and not in this house. One spider is more than enough here! I imagine one day, a knight in shining armour – or whatever it is they have these days - will sweep me off my feet and we’ll move to a family home and live happily ever after. Until then, I’ll leave home for work every morning, knowing that I’ll come back to see a spider, sometimes in the same spot and other times on a different one. All the while, I’ll be wondering if coming home to a spider is a sign of extreme loneliness or an appreciation of nature. While figuring that out and waiting for change, I guess we’ll just share the space as the most unlikely housemates.

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Dear Matilde,

Thank you for this fun story. It reminded me so much of a little story I wrote about my plant (and new roommate at the time), Cynthia. (Yes, I named her!) I personified her just as you have your spider and still consider her a special companion. Since I have lived for years in small apartment spaces with no access to land for gardening, Cynthia serves both as my link to nature and a symbol of my appreciation of nature. I'm glad you let the spider survive and become your unlikely friend. :)

Best wishes to you during this time of reflection and change, and may you always have companionship in all sorts of forms in your life!

Cheers,

Emily