Last week, I heard a piercing scream from one of my colleagues followed by a loud thud. She had squished a spider that was crawling down the window in her cubicle. I was horrified. You see, I have loved insects from a very young age. I even had a big butterfly collection. Weekends, my father would drive me here and there to add to my collection. I did everything by the book. I had a homemade net, jars, chloroform, spreading boards and insect pins. I knew every species of butterfly in Ontario. I lived for the chase. I even determined that, one day, I would become a famous entomologist or lepidopterist, travelling the world in search of new species never before seen. Knowing my passion, neighbours dropped off beetles, moths and praying mantises. I filled my bedroom with jars of butterfly caterpillars in varying stages of metomorphosis, the alien-like skins of cicada pupae and ant colonies.
Peer pressure is a terrible thing. When I entered grade nine, word quickly spread that I collected butterflies. This was definitely not a cool thing to do. To end the hallway snickering, I did what any teenage girl would do – I threw my entire collection into the garbage.
These days, when I spot a monarch butterfly fluttering about milkweed plants I get a little wistful. I think how different my life might have been had I eschewed the snickering and followed my dreams. And as for my colleague, she knows that next time she encounters an unexpected visitor with eight legs, sudden death is not an option.