Saturday, March 15, 2008

Day seventy three...Clean as can be.

A great part of the springtime is being able to keep your windows open for a change.

So much stale air and dust collects in our respective confines over the long depressing winter. The inevitable buildup is neither healthy nor attractive.

Cobwebs are the worst.

It took me years to differentiate cobwebs from spiderwebs. You’d think having a science teacher for a mother would have given me a leg up, but no. No, for the longest time, despite my mom's best efforts, I believed all webs housed live spiders. Be they a finely spun and taut lesson in thrifty ergodynamics, or a limp dusty, incongruous shadow of a formerly stealthy fortress. I always thought somebody was home; somebody who would give me a nasty bite if I came too close.

In reality though, the cobwebs are just vacant buildings waiting to be demolished. In reality they are merely boarded up, run down, falling-apart-at-the-hinges kind of houses. The immediate danger is gone from the premises. They may be unsightly, but they are mostly dust. And dust is easy to remove when you can see it.

When displaced, the crafty, voracious, and very patient spider moves on to a new part of town at a moment’s notice. It doesn’t ask the housing board if it needs to file papers. It doesn’t think about the delicate aesthetic balance which may exist between the refrigerator and the wall. It just puts down its stakes and moves in. It has ultimate authority over the helpless, hopeless, one track mind of the average insect. They have no voice; neither in life, nor in death.

And when displaced and thrust into a new, unfamiliar situation, the spider will forget all that came before. It will not retain memories of where it used to live. It will not crawl by the cobweb it once spun with care and pride and think of all the good times and delicious meals it made for itself in the past. It will immediately forget that part of its life no matter how fond of it it may have once been. Some spiders even eat their former homes removing any and all traces of occupation as they metabolize the precious nutrients contained within the walls.

But the spider regrets nothing. She has no master. She is a killing machine and keeps busy by constantly securing a new fortress; a new lair; a fresh, strong and inescapable trap where she will sit slowly, methodically scratching her legs together, spinning silk, distilling poison and laying eggs. Eggs which, in some cases, the father won’t live long enough to see born. For he too will be in the belly of the beast.

And sometimes, we only notice the cobwebs when we have company over.

Oh, our visitors probably wouldn’t notice anyway. But we see them. And we can’t believe they escaped our careful powers of observation. Our guests are most likely too busy scanning the perimeter for the clues we all leave, consciously or not, of what we’re all about; what we represent; and what represents us. Meanwhile all we can think about is: "How did I not see that cobweb? I cleaned the whole house and it figures now, when I’m trying to make a good impression on my guest, all I can see is the mess I didn’t notice."

The mess from a life lived long ago.

And, unfortunately, the dusty, dormant cobweb is much easier to spot than the silky, sleek, active spider web; the one you have to look out for; the one that harbors the living, breathing danger.

It’s so easy to fall back into the patterns we develop. Especially when we’re busy trying to create a new life with new distractions to keep us safe from the thoughts that got us to have to change in the first place. We experience the satisfying daily discovery of problem solving techniques that we once only dreamed of. We develop new tools to aid in our inescapable interactions with people; with situations; with desires and regrets. And we sometimes mentally mark these things on a chalkboard and stand back and gaze at it and clasp our hands together and crack our knuckles with authority. And sometimes we accrue these achievements and think, "I wish _____ was here to see me now." We wish we could hug them and hold their head gently in our hands and smile and celebrate the joy together. And sometimes we cry our fool heads off. We cry because we are both overcome with joy, and numb with longing. We cry because we are celebrating what once seemed no more attainable than the power of flight, and now, we are high above the world looking down as the earth absorbs our falling tears.

And we know that eventually, we have to come back down.

And we have to do it all over again.


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