Tarantulas in Flagstaff
I saw a tarantula once in Flagstaff. It was stoically making its way down Oakmont Drive when I spotted it. Seeing it so close gave me goosebumps so, like any risky daredevil, I lifted my sneaker to pulverize it. Unexpectedly, it paused and seemingly braced itself for the force of my shoe, a sad but inevitable fate. People just don’t want to coexist with spiders, especially ones that are known to spit hair in the eyes of their predators.
As my foot hovered over its tiny body, I wondered how this creature had found its way to this residential street, in this suburb seven thousand feet in the sky, where it clearly didn’t belong. The docile critter didn’t lift its legs in defense or purge orange spears of hair in my direction. Its behavior made me doubt that it would subject me to such a forceful stomp if our roles were reversed, and decided it was only fair to let it live.
My grandparents struggled to open a pizzeria when they emigrated from Italy. They had no money and my nonni didn’t even know how to say “school bus” in English; nobody would talk to her. The white bread families in Hackettstown weren’t used to sallow skin or accents. They shouted at my nonno as he mowed the lawn and called him a worthless ginny.
Just like their neighbors, my grandparents ate spaghetti at the kitchen table with their children every night and said prayers on their knees before tiptoeing, soft as spiders, to bed.