(This is the story I used in my college application essay. There was a good reason at the time, though I can’t remember it now, but apparently it’s really stuck with me. This time around, I imagine it’s for a slightly larger audience than an admissions panel.)
The summer after my sophomore year of high school, I went on a mission trip to Mexico with my youth group (although this has little to do with the trip itself). Our group stayed on a compound with a few other churches, sharing meals and worshiping together in the evenings.
All the girls stayed in one large building containing wall-to-wall bunk beds, and I was one of the few who ended up sleeping on the floor because there weren’t quite enough beds for everyone. It was a humbling experience, as my initial grumpiness with the situation forced me to reconsider whether I really thought that I deserved a bed over anyone else in the room. It also placed me literally physically lower than everyone else, which coincided conveniently with me learning a lesson about not placing my desires or comfort ahead of others. That again, though, is not the main crux of my story. It is, however, from my seat on my makeshift bed for the week that this story takes place.
One night, I was sitting on my little mattress pad talking to my friend on the bed across from me. At one point in the conversation, her eyes widened and she pointed to the wall behind me. There, only a couple feet above my bed, was a decent-sized tarantula. (In my book, all tarantulas are too big.)
I high-tailed it off of my bed and over to hers, and in the course of the next few moments the news of our hairy visitor spread. With 60 teenage girls in the room, the screaming that ensued was louder than I’ve EVER heard in my life, besides the time my high school football team threw a hail Mary to clinch a championship game. The noise level in those two situations was about the same.
At some point during the cacophony, one girl came over with a single sheet of paper and said she was going to scoop up the tarantula and bring it outside. I truly still wonder if she thought that was going to work. Before I could even register what was going on, one of the leaders picked up my shoe which was lying nearby, yelled “I’M GONNA KILL IT!!”, and stepped directly on my pillow in order to smash the poor creature. I never saw what it looked like on the bottom of my shoe, but I can still distinctly picture the softball-sized smear of tarantula goop that remained right above where I was supposedly going to have to *fall asleep* that evening.
The Girl with the Paper, as I fondly remember her now, got very upset about the untimely demise of my bedmate. I can’t totally fault her for that. She’s just a little bit more generous with nature’s creepier creatures than I am. All she wanted to do was take the thing outside.
There are a lot of other things I remember from that week: bonding with my fellow students over about 40 games of euchre, thinking I might die on a school bus as it backed up around a corner on the side of a mountain, and the feeling of having a ripped contact and no spares (rookie mistake).
It may not have been quite as dramatic as I’ve told it here (aside from the screaming. Oh the screaming). It was a while ago, after all. But that tarantula was big, and hairy, and after the whole ordeal was over, I slept that night with my sheets tucked tightly around my entire body.
It wasn’t my most restful night ever. How was I supposed to know the tarantula didn’t have any friends who might come for payback?
I’ve lived in St. Louis for a little over a year now. Before coming here I was a proud Michigander, and I hope for the day that no matter where I am, I can make it to Lake Michigan in the 15 minutes it used to take me to get there. (How about it, science?) There are few things I love more than a good corny joke. If you see me laughing, which is very likely, there’s probably a 40% chance it’s because of a pun. I also love books, music, and learning about the brain (really), and it brings me deep joy to be able to spend my time investing in the lives of Central Presbyterian’s wonderful students and families.
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