by Ashleigh Underwood
I’m afraid of bees. It’s not the type of fear where I get a racing heart and panic when I see them. No, that type of fear is reserved for spiders. Bees are different. I’m afraid of them because they have lethal stingers. (Potentially) Spiders give me nightmares. When I see a bee, I just change my path. When I see a spider I find someone to take the spider out, like a mob boss ordering a hit on someone who did him wrong.
My mom was severely allergic to bee stings and wasp stings. She would remind me every summer that if she got stung I needed to call 911 as fast as I could. Another fun fact about my mom is that she was a really good sharer. She shared her asthma with me and her entire catalog of allergies. My mom always had a cough and a runny nose. When I would ask her what was wrong, she would tell me “just allergies.” I would get stuffy noses and asthma attacks but my allergies and asthma were never officially diagnosed. I fixed all that by seeing an allergist three years ago where I got the asthma diagnosis along with a mile long list of things I am allergic to. I’m allergic to everything in Vegas. The grass, the tress, the tumbleweeds, all of it.
I asked the allergist to test me for bee stings and wasp stings. My mom probably shared that with me too.
“It’s not a pleasant test and it would really only work if you had been stung.” My doctor told me.
Well, I’m not walking up to a bee to ask it to sting me. I’ll just keep going on with my path aversion strategy. It’s been working my entire life.
Growing up, my family used to take trips to Utah. Duck Creek, Utah to be exact. We had an acre of land that my parents had big dreams for. We were going to build a cabin on that land and have a nice little escape from the Vegas heat in the summer. We even had neighbors already. We would hitch our trailer to the van and drive out as often as we could, making plans for the land and camping in the trailer. We got to know the people who lived in the house across the street from our land. It was an older couple who used that house as their summer house. They had a big grassy field that led up to their house. The grass was tall, taller than me when I was ten years old. It was beautiful. From the dirt street that ran up the hill where we were, you could see the lake below. I would learn to fish at that lake. I would catch my first fish at that lake.
Those trips are some of my favorite memories. I’m not a fan of camping but with the trailer, it wasn’t bad. There was a real toilet and we had toilet paper and a door to have some privacy. We had a couch with a TV and a DVD player (or maybe it was a VHS player attached to the TV). We had the world’s smallest kitchen wall but we had some cabinet space for snacks and food. There was even a shower in the toilet closet. We would park the trailer on our land and spend weekends out there. Sometimes our trips were longer. Sometimes I even got to go up there with my dad, just us. A daddy-daughter trip.
One time during our many adventure to Utah, my dad was talking with our neighbor about something on our land. We were further up the hill on our acre. The land my family bought was on a hill. At the top of the hill would be where the cabin would be built. We camped out in the trailer at the bottom of the hill. It was like this whole side of Duck Creek was on a hill. We drove up a hill just to get to our part of Duck Creek and then our whole acre was a hill.
I think my dad was showing him something. I remember racing up the hill to get to them. I probably had something very important to ask them or tell them, as is the nature of kids. As I ran, I ran through some grass, some tall grass. Not quite as tall as the grass in front of my neighbor’s house but taller than my grass back home in Vegas. I ran through it without thinking, eager to get to my dad.
Then I heard buzzing in my ear. It got louder and louder until it was all I could hear. My heart started racing and I felt little legs on my arms, the buzzing in my ear. I was terrified now. I could see there were bees crawling on my arm. I reached into my hair and could feel bees, multiple bees, flying, crawling, and existing in my hair.
I screamed and kept running, shaking my arms and my head like a mad woman. Trying to shake the bees off of me, I reached my dad and our neighbor who were bent over laughing. They were laughing so hard. They were laughing at me and I could still hear my heartbeat in my ears. I was still pulling bees out of my hair.
“There were bees!” I exclaimed, trying to explain that this was serious.
My neighbor stopped laughing and started giving me facts about bees. Facts that were very interesting at the time but facts that I no longer remember. His random facts helped calm me down.
Now, when I see a bee I think about the feeling of their bodies as I pulled them out of my hair when I was ten. I think about camping trips and how Duck Creek Utah, and Cedar City have a special place in my heart. I think about taking my son up there and telling him these stories.
I also think about how to check for creatures in tall grass.