When my three daughters and I moved into the basement dwelling of an apartment complex 19 years ago, I tried to hide how much I was trembling while I swept up the rather large-looking, dead spider on the carpet near the patio door. The girls were so excited about the apartment, and I liked the basement location because it was right across from the laundry room and there was only one other apartment down there.
But I’m an arachnophobe. I’m almost certain that Webster slapped a picture of my face near the definition just in case someone needed to know what one looked like. I’m not just afraid of certain types of spiders, or small ones rather than big ones. I’m terrified of all spiders, particularly big fat black ones that fall out of heating vents.
Living on the basement level, where you look out of your window and see feet and legs walking by instead of the whole person, was a new experience for me that brought me closer to my arachnophobia than I’d expected. What I never considered in my excitement of choosing the apartment was that most of the apartment was underground, and underground was where the larger spiders burrowed. I didn’t need a book or expert to tell me this. Two nights in a row, I woke up for my nightly bathroom break, turned on the light in the hallway to find a large black spider sitting there.
Then I discovered they came in from everywhere: the patio doors, the large vent at floor level near the patio door, from the hallway through the space under the apartment door. It was never a secret when I discovered one. My screams brought a neighbor running one time, and they always jolted my daughters awake. The day one fell out of the vent though, caught us all off guard.
I was standing in the doorway of my daughters’ bedroom and we were all talking when I looked over by the window and couldn’t figure out what that black thing was hanging out of the vent. The girls were laying on their beds and hadn’t noticed anything. I started over toward the window when the black thing hanging there … moved its legs, and then dropped with a loud thwomp onto the table where my daughters kept their games. I screamed then, my daughters jumped up and ran over by me while I stood there shaking. I had to find it because if I didn’t I’d never be able to sleep.
No more bug spray; bleach will do
I yelled for the bug spray and the broom, the mop and anything else we had with a long handle. That thing was big and the only way a shoe could help would be if I could throw it hard enough to crush it and my aim wasn’t that good. The girls and I moved the bed away from the window area and I immediately jumped up on it and watched the floor while the girls started moving things away from the table of games. Using one of the long handles, I moved something and through the tears I had to keep wiping away, I caught a glimpse of its black body moving along the wall. We sprayed and it kept moving; we sprayed again and it kept moving. I screamed for the bleach and splashed it two or three times before it finally died. By that time I was crying, my daughters were crying, and the bleached carpet by the wall would end up costing me a pretty penny.
I’ve chosen apartments more carefully since then. Basement apartments, or even houses with basements in them are out of the question. I keep tubes of cement to seal cracks, cans of bug spray, and bleach – just in case.
Do you have fears that affect your living choices?