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The swamp is a fertile place. Everything seems to grow just a little larger. Alligators, which I’ve had in every back yard growing up, were only a worry when they started hitting ten feet. Fruit grows far larger than you’ll see in any grocery store. Insects come in sizes that seem like they should be on a nature special. I forget, having lived in Pennsylvania for almost ten years now, how big things can get. The worst I have to deal with now are centipedes and camel crickets. Both are pretty gross, but not particularly big.

The spider in my mother’s bathroom, however was enormous. They’re called wolf spiders and they’ve been in and out of my childhood homes for as long as I can remember. They look scary and they move fast, but they aren’t dangerous and they spend their free time eating grosser bugs. But it’s been years since I’ve seen one and to say that the thing was three inches long is not hyperbole. It was massive and hanging out in the shower.

The couple of times I saw it, it stayed still and we both pretended not to see the other. It’s a pretty necessary insect adaptation in Florida. You can’t get rid of them all, so as long as they’re basically harmless and, you know, not cockroaches, it’s cool.

But my last day there, it was seven in the morning and I had to leave by eight to make the almost two hour drive to return the rental car and catch my flight. I was tired and overwrought and the damn thing was sitting on the floor of the shower. I turned on the water in the hopes that it would find a new home and I could shower in peace.

I spent the first five minutes of my shower, watching it shift, scuttle from one side of the room to the other. I kept one eye open while I shampooed my hair. And then. And then it started the downward trek toward the floor of the shower. I had enough. I jumped out of the shower, grabbed the showerhead and drown it. It’s not something I’m proud of, it wasn’t even something I wanted to do at the time, but it was all I could think to do. When it finally washed down the drain, curled and still, I finished my shower and tried not to think that this would come back and bite me in the ass.

I went to Florida for a week, extended my stay by another six days. A little more than 48 hours after I arrived back home, my father died in his sleep. I know the world doesn’t really work this way, I know it was the cancerous tumor that came on so fast and so big that took his life. But he seemed to be doing well when I left and all I can think is if I had just left the fucking spider alone, he’d still be alive.

Today is my birthday. Today is also the day my dad was cremated. It’s likely his memorial service will be on his birthday, which, of course, of course falls on Father’s Day this year.

I thought 2010 was a fucker of a year. Turns out 2011 is ready to fight for that title.
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