Coffee Table Declarations
Sunday, September 11, 2005
On a recent vacation day I went to visit my parents on their vacation. Every year they go for a week to a place that is a combination of a New Hampshire farm and a resort/summer camp. The place hosts activities for all ages - swimming, horseback riding, tennis, etc. There is also one main dining hall and all meals are served at particular times and marked by bells so guests know when to come. I had never been there before but other summers my parents took my sister and they always coordinated their visit with my aunt, uncle, and cousins.

The drive up there was fascinating because I passed through all these non-places which made me feel like I was in the middle of nowhere. What's strange for me to realize, having spent my entire life living in the suburbs of Boston, is that a lot of Massachusetts is really quite rural. There are these city areas and then in the middle and the western part of the state, it's mostly small communities. Some I've never even heard of. I drove right through the center of one town which was full of banners advertising their annual chili bake-off as if it were the high point of the year. Then I saw a sign I was entering another town, and saw nothing but rolling fields and wooded areas and the occasional sign for something with the town's name on it (the local church, library, gas station, etc.) I swear this went on for ages, maybe even 20 miles before I finally entered another town. I could not imagine growing up in a town like that.

Finally I arrived at the farm and found my parents. Before long I realized that the guests were not my demographic whatsoever. There were plenty of older people and young families with children. No one my age. The whole setting (all the little buildings, the mountains in the background, the dining hall, the end-of-the-week talent show) really reminded me of Dirty Dancing sans any sexy dance instructors.

The highlight of the day was when my mom and I went exploring and found a working hot tub in the basement of one of the buildings. We were enjoying it for all of two minutes when an unwelcome visitor floated through the swirling waters right past my chest. Yes, it was a huge daddy-long-legs spider. If you know me you know how I feel about spiders and daddy-long-legs are like mutant spiders on steroids in my opinion. I was out of the hot tub in seconds flat screaming loudly. My mom is completely indifferent to spiders. She assured me the spider had long since drowned and she proceeded to try to catch it in her hands to throw it out of the hot tub but she kept losing it. I stood dripping in my bathing suit a safe six or so feet away pointing, "There he is! Get him! Oh god!"

Finally she asked me to hand her the piece of wood on the side of the hot tub attached to the key we were given in order to get into the basement. She scooped him up onto the wood and laid him on the side. It was still too close for me however because I couldn't even look at the thing let alone get back in the hot tub. She nonchalantly said that I should take the wood and dump the spider into a conveniently nearby wastebasket. No small task for someone who couldn't look at the spider. I had to trust her to tell me that I was picking up the far end of the wood and then after waving it frantically over the wastebasket I would hold the wood out and say, "is he gone?" But he wouldn't go away! He was wet and stuck to the wood. My mom suggested scraping him against the edge of the wastebasket and the whole process was greatly traumatic. Just writing this now I am getting chills. I think I've blocked out whatever happened next because the next thing I know I was peering into the hot tub for other offending creatures before gingerly climbing back in for a brief time.

Needless to say I was so very glad to return to the city at the end of the day where although we do not have annual chili bake-offs, at least the spiders are smaller.
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