I have caught many spiders with a glass. Usually one of my husband’s pint glasses. The spiders have meant no harm, they’ve just come from the nowhere of their world and into the somewhere of my world, suddenly appearing and scaring the life out of me. I trap them in a glass, slide a piece of paper underneath, go outside and set each one free.
It’s a great way to have a good look at a spider. Their bodies are covered in tiny hairs and I think they use these hairs to perceive their environment; they have a lot of eyes but I think their vision is blurry and used only to pick up the movements of their prey.
The spider becomes still and is probably wondering what’s happened to it; one minute it is meandering along and the next it can’t progress, it can’t get moving. It seems to just sit and accept its fate, until it gets bored or frustrated with the inability to fulfil its purpose. It starts to use its feelers and gently taps the glass. It tries to get some leverage to climb up the glass but the surface is too smooth and it slides back down again. I wonder if it feels cheated? Disoriented? This barrier has just come down out of nowhere and stopped it in its tracks. It can still see everything that is familiar to it until it finds itself dumped outside in an alien landscape.
I’ve never really given much thought to how it survives once I have “rescued” the poor arachnid, but I have wondered if spiders are introverts. I think they probably are.
I’m an introvert and so is my husband, although I am further up the continuum/spectrum towards extroversion than he is. I can behave like an extrovert when the mood takes me, but I need to spend a lot of time on my own to recharge my batteries and think; I am someone who reflects, and I take a lot of time to reflect, but I have struggled with reflecting during this lockdown, and about this lockdown; trying to think clearly, I’m finding, is a challenge.
The other week my husband pointed out that the lockdown was having a greater impact on me than I realised (he felt). I asked him to explain:
“Well, you gave up your job to do the MLitt and you were anxious but excited about it. You were throwing caution to the wind and taking a leap into the unknown. You said you wanted to immerse yourself in the whole experience. And that is exactly what you were doing. You were going to classes, you were taking part in different projects, you were churning out creative work like I have never seen you do before; you, have never seen you do before. You made new friends, you were meeting them for coffee’s and lunches and chats about each other’s work, you were spending time in the library reading books you didn’t know existed. Your whole world had opened up…”
And all of a sudden it ground to a halt. Everything as I knew it, stopped. Everything as everyone knew it, stopped.
We are unable to immerse ourselves in the experience of university. It’s all still there but we can only access it in certain ways. The world has become virtual; Email, Facetime, Zoom, WhatsApp, Facebook, Microsoft Teams: faces framed in technology, tinny voices and frozen screens.
I’d give anything to meet friends for a coffee and a chat
volunteer to discuss a poem with a class of art students
spend an hour figuring out what a gerund actually is
participate in an excerpt of a stage play at Livewire
attend a masterclass or the launch of an exhibition
give feedback on a piece of prose or a poem
have a round table discussion
book a room in the library
help out at a book launch
meet my writing buddies
eat a burger
But I can’t do any of that.
All I can do is empathise with a spider in a glass.