There weren’t that many spiders in New York. We were used to cockroaches but spiders were cause for alarm.

I finally left and moved to portland (i know, original). I moved there during the fall, one of two seasons in which spiders explode in population. I knew people who kept a broom on their front porch so you could sweep through the webs on your way to the sidewalk.

I would forget sometimes.

In time I grew to marvel at them, from what became a shorter and shorter safe distance. Contact was still beyond my abilities to handle, and then I was bit by one. A bad one.

I was healed by Chinese and indigenous South American medicines.

That following year and some of the next I spent wandering around Mexico and Guatemala, mostly, and my dealings with spiders were on another level altogether. This time i knew how to ask one to comfortably share a room. It all had to do with where I was coming from.

My last month in Mexico was spent on the desert floor of a mountain range in northern Mexico. The area was known to bring people seeking communion with a cactus that grows wild there.

I was there for that, too. But first the place made me soak in it – everything from the horror to the stark beauties of it all. And when the medicine and I finally found each other, it was with Its help that I noticed, finally, the colony of black widows I had been sharing space with that past month.

They were there, and they had left me alone. Now that I knew they were there I had to be more conscious to return the favor.

They were still there the next day. So was I.

So now I am living at the base of a mountain in far Northern California and I live in a house of spiders – there are spider plants everywhere, and at least three or four different kinds of actual Arachnida dwelling here along with us all. I found a black widow in a closet and begged it for days to relocate, and eventually it did. I could not think of the alternative. I had made a promise.

I have not seen another black widow since, and so I examine the rest from a safe distance. I check my daughter’s clothes and shoes before she puts them on, and I check my own shoes, too. I look at the sophistication and varied techniques in their webs, study their body structures and watch their patterns – some build squat, thick webs they appear to sit on, and position themselves in the same place for days. There are two such as this that I am observing at the moment along with a myriad of the long-legged wispy ones, and I am ever on the lookout for the brown recluse.

The spider, she keeps me conscious and aware.