Durham News: Opinion

Derrick Ivey: Spider writing

It’s 1 a.m. Technically the beginning of a new day, but I’m still winding down from the one before.

My previous day involved meetings, chores and errands. The evening was mostly occupied with rehearsal. Then a long drive home. Followed by a few more chores, the pouring of whiskey, the climbing of stairs, and the sitting in front of my computer to catch up on whatever needs catching.

I do have a mobile device, but I can’t (don’t want to) shake the sense that it’s just a phone. Even the idea of a mobile phone remains a bit alien to me. Mine is muted or turned off most of the time. So chances are good that if you call/text/email me on a busy day I won’t receive your message until I’m back home.

Anyway, here I sit. In front of my computer at the end of this busy day with my glass of whiskey.

It feels somewhat old world: this purposeful sitting of oneself at a desk to focus on tasks, obligations, relationships; and to thoughtfully plan for the future.

Rather than juggling all things at all times, people of earlier times dedicated an hour or so out of each day to sit by their fires, perusing their papers, reading their letters, and writing their responses.

Quite civilized that.

The room in which I now sit is completely dark, save for the glow from my computer screen. I open my email and begin to sort through the messages. Some from clients, some from friends, and some concerning the various theatrical productions which are currently on my schedule.

Business comes first. A design client wants me to see and consider several items depicted on different websites. I click on one link, and take a sip of whiskey as I wait for the page to load.

In that instant, a tiny cobweb spider drops from the darkness above and dangles in the exact center my screen.

I have to refocus to see her clearly.

She hovers there for a second, as if making certain she has captured my attention. But as I watch her, suspended just inches in front of my face, I quickly dismiss this thought.

She probably has no idea that I exist.

So I feel a bit like a voyeur as I admire her tiny round body and her elegant tangle of slender legs.

Then she suddenly springs into action, efficiently doing some tiny bit of business before ascending back up into the void with one fluid motion.

The web page has loaded now. I shift my focus back to the screen and don’t like what I see, which is fine – I’m merely supposed to give my opinion of the object pictured.

So I click back to the email and begin to type my response.

Down comes the spider again. She seems to be attracted to the opening of new windows.

Once again she pauses, performs some little intricacy with her legs, and then begins her return climb. But this time she stops every few inches to repeat her leg business before resuming her ascent.

I watch for as long as she’s in front of my screen, marveling at her focused dexterity. And at the magic of this moment.

When she vanishes into the shadows I return to my work.

I click on a few more web pages and type my responses while Madame Spider intermittently drops in and out of my view. After four or five iterations of this activity, I realize she is slowly making her way to the left.

I’ve finished with work emails, responded to a few friendly correspondences, and am now busily sorting out calendar issues related to upcoming rehearsals and performances.

Madame Spider makes another entrance and I pause to take a sip of whiskey while I consider her actions.

She always drops directly in from above. While her first appearance involved a quick move down followed by a rapid and smooth ascent; on all subsequent visits she has dropped, hovered for a bit, and then begun a staccato climb punctuated with intense little episodes of busy-ness.

She has consistently repeated this sequence in seemingly perfect lines, moving ever so slightly to the left with each new descent.

As if she’s a writer.

Her rhythmic movements remind me of an old fashioned typewriter. A quick move over and down. The intermittent composition of a new line while moving back. Return and repeat.

But not side to side, like a typewriter. She moves down and up, spinning her prose on a vertical plane.

Is she even making a web? I’d always thought webs were woven in a somewhat circular fashion.

She seems, if not writing, to be making an intricately beaded curtain between me and my screen.

Perhaps she’s making a screen of her own.

Scheduling now done, I click on a news site to see what’s going on in the world. Nothing terribly earth shattering. Nothing that won’t keep.

I finish my whiskey whilst watching the spider continue her composition. My attention going more and more to her efforts. And less and less to the worries of the world.

My glass is now empty. My eyes are tired. And Madame Spider’s progress has taken her into the shadows beyond my glowing screen.

I turn off the computer and leave her to complete her spider writing in darkness.

Derrick Ivey is an actor, director, designer, and gentleman farmer who lives in Chatham County. You can reach him at derrickivey@bellsouth.net