on spiders (plus a poem)
No matter how used to change I am, transition always triggers my anxiety.
I’ve felt like crying for days, tears sit suspended behind my eyes, pulling at my nose, ready to come whenever they have permission. My stomach is flipping every few seconds these days. I think it’s because, after adjusting to this new strange apocalyptic life in the Outer Banks for two months, at the end of this month we have to leave and figure out if we’re going to return to our apartment in New York, while the virus is still rampant and almost 3,000 are passing away each day. While the world is still in the fight for its life. It is another uncertain transition on the other end of which there is no consistency or certainty. It may bring us living in separate places, which means being separated from each other, and one of us separating from our cat, It may mean living on other people’s terms, moving in with our families and reverting to our teenage selves. It will bring still more unemployment and money worries, still more traveling with our lives on our backs, without a comfortable place to set everything down. Every time I am on the cusp of a big transition, which is often, I think “I can’t start again, not again.” The existential dread and emotional work of new beginnings feels like too much sometimes.
This moment is an unexpected time of change for a lot of people. So many folks I know are moving away from cities and home to their families, because they can no longer afford rent on their own without help from the government. We are all being faced with a lot of free time in which to analyze the path we’ve been on and how we might shift focus once the world slowly begins to reopen (once it is recommended by health officials to do so). A large number of the artists I know rely on gigs and contracts dependent on public gatherings, and so have to choose something else to focus on for now. Some people are finding themselves faced with a long while inside and away from loved ones because they are at high risk. Others are having to rethink their financial situations altogether. Many are experiencing unexpected loss and grief.
Transition is densely, thickly, in the air. And it is FREAKIN HARD.
It reminds me of the spider webs here. There are SOO MANY SPIDER WEBS in this house and outside, we are always accidentally walking through them, apologizing to the spider, wherever they are, and then frantically brushing ourselves off to make sure someone isn’t about to crawl into our clothes. I dwell on the fact that every time this happens, the literal home of another living being is totally destroyed, something they have at least worked an entire day on, and will need to recreate again after our big dumb bodies have left them. And if it’s a threshold we cross often, they will have to remake their home again and again and again. They will spin another delicate and beautiful and unique life for themselves, only to be destroyed.
And yet, they never throw their 8 arms in the air (or 4 arms? I’m not really sure on a spider) and go “that’s it, I’m not restarting again, not again! I can’t start over again!” They will always rebuild, they will use their evolutionary instincts, resilience, and a deep biological sense of purpose, to start again, because that’s what spiders do. And perhaps they know something we don't. That the rebuilding isn't what is in between life, but a necessary and profound part of it.
Also, here's a poem I wrote a while ago:
the question whispers in breezes between branches
and crawls into my ears in the witching hour of the night
when all other thoughts have vacated
it permeates the skin through the bottom of my feet
and speaks between each steady beat of my restless heart
"what do you want your life to be like?"
quiet and persistent
ever so presently
for an answer