I’m alone again. Well…not quite. I’ve got my second very best friend of my life, Brando, at my side (hubby has just got to be numero uno….that’s a given). Brando is of the four legged variety. A poodle. Or, as I told my darling nephew once….”he’s not a dog….he’s a POOOODLE.”

It’s nearing 9 p.m. and I’ve got to take said poodle out for his last constitutional of the day. This is my least favorite part of the day when hubby is away. Sure, I miss hubby. But the real reason, I’m almost ashamed to say, is that I loathe with every fiber of my being walking my poodle at night.

Living here in “middle earth” I can’t just let poodle out the back door. Nope. That would be too easy. You see there are all sorts of creatures where I live. Just the other day I saw a fox skitter across the road in the early morning hours. Actually, the fox sighting was quite awesome. However, I suspect that was the critter the neighbor across the street accidentally caught in his trap and some passer-by, infrequent as they are on our street, opened the cage and let it go. The neighbor had not set out to trap a fox but rather an armadillo! Yep…we have those too and oh the damage they can cause if left to their own devices!

The very same neighbor dog’s were sprayed by neighborhood skunks (who knows how many there are?) three times in as many months. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out why I won’t let my poodle off leash at night, even in his own fenced-in yard.

Sigh.

So I walk out the door this evening just as darkness is setting. There is still enough light that I can manage without a flashlight. As I have done now for the better part of a year since moving to middle earth, I open the front door slowly….cautiously. I do this because normally there is some insanely hideous insect awaiting me on the other side of the door…..as if ready to attack….in fact, I’m quite sure that attack is their true agenda! Ah…the coast is clear! Lovely! I walk down the walkway and make a bee-line to the pristine grass of the next door neighbor where Brando likes to relieve himself before calling it a night. He’s always great about getting right to down to business quickly as if he knows that “mamma” wants to get back into the safety and comfort of home lickity-split. We are back at the sidewalk leading up to my front door in a flash. “Shit” flies out of my mouth. “Where the hell did that come from… in less than four minutes?” I cry. A spider the size of a salad plate is on the front door step. It’s blocking my entrance into my home! Panic rises within me….my heart is racing and I’m on the verge of tears. I hate this feeling….this fear that consumes me. I feel like a prisoner….powerless and in shackles….I cannot relax even in my own home. I know that my fear of all things creepy-crawley seems ridiculous to some, nevertheless, it is in my DNA and at the precipice of 56 I don’t envision this fear going away anytime soon.

I rarely had to contend with insects when I lived in California. It was heavenly. I slept with my windows open nearly year round. I could enjoy sitting outside with a glass of wine and not be bombarded by mosquitoes or hairy spiders. Now I live in a place that is akin to Hell for me. The extent of most of my fears….insects, snakes, bizarre wildlife, and wild weather… well….I’m living smack dab in the middle of it. I’ve been living here a year now. The only time I have been able to relax from this crippling fear of insects was during the winter months, a good five months in total.

I dream of living somewhere else….even the friggin’ North Pole in sub-zero temperatures for months and months on end seems doable at this point… just as long as I can be free of these crickets on steroids, scorpions, huge spiders, snakes, ticks, obese millipedes and God only knows what else.

Breate, Cristina….Breathe. These creatures aren’t going anywhere…they are here to stay. God give me strength to deal with it in a way that doesn’t send me over the edge.

I must admit that this glass of red wine as I type away is helping. This is my blissful moment for the day. Cheers.