I have a plant named O2. I know I've mentioned him before. Usually when I've mentioned him it's because I'm comparing myself to all of my peers who practically have grandchildren by now and I want to make sure everyone knows that I have taken on responsibility in my life as well. Because I have my plant.
O2 and I have been together for 15 years now. He is a part of me and I, him. My uncle passed away when I was 14 and someone, I don't remember who, gave Bob this small plant with a nice card. Bob passed it off to me and I began caring for it. O2 grew and grew. We've been through so much together. I've seen him outgrow several pots. I've watered him. There was one brief period of awkwardness when he went through puberty and I did not. But I'm not angry with him anymore.
My time will come, too.
I knew it was impractical to bring O2 to Palau with me. For one thing, he's very big and heavy. But also, O2 is sort of a diva and I knew he would spend the whole year complaining about how frizzy the humidity made his hair. And if there's one thing I can't stand, it's when people move to the equator for one year and complain about how hot and humid it is there.
Uh . . .
My friend Anna Swayne offered to take care of him in my absence. The only reason I can think of why I agreed to this was that the stress of moving had zapped me of the ability to think rational thoughts.
The reason it was insane for me to take Anna up on her offer is because ANNA SWAYNE IS A PLANT KILLER.
You have all been warned.
I truly believe it is intentional. Anna is a very responsible human being. One of the most responsible people I know. But if you give her a plant and tell her to water it every so often, she will take that "every so often," divide it by 13, put the plant in a dark room, and then light it on fire. Then she'll cackle-laugh like every witch you've ever seen on T.V.
I knew this about her already. Because in May of 2012, I went to Mexico for one week with Daniel, Krishelle, and Uncle Will. Daniel and I had some roses growing on a balcony. These were basically award-winning roses. Every magazine in the country was trying to come over to take pictures of them for the cover of their next edition. Strangers in the street still stop and slow clap me through when I pass by because of how amazing these roses were.
Then, Anna Swayne happened to them.
Because she is so responsible, we asked her to water them while we were gone. Just water them. Nothing more. We told her they needed water every day. She gave us the thumbs up like she was born to do this task, and off we went, sure that we were leaving them in good hands.
Seven days later we returned to scorched plants. They looked like what you might find in Hell. Completely, 100% dead. Dry. Half of the soil had blown away. It was the Dust Bowl all over again.
I called Anna.
Anna: Huh?
Anna: No! Really?!
Eli: Did you water them?!
Anna: Well I stopped by on Wednesday and saw them through the window. They looked ok so I didn't bother.
And with that kind of a background, I left O2 in her hands for one year.
Every once in a while I would Skype with Anna from Palau, always asking her to show me O2. Every time she had an excuse for why she couldn't do that but said she would "totally send a picture later." The picture would come. Always the same one. Sometimes rotated. Sometimes put through a different filter to make it seem like it wasn't the same picture she took on the day O2 got to her house.
I was getting worried.
Then I returned to Salt Lake City and saw him.
Anna: Huh?
Anna: You knew what I was when you picked me up.
O2 wasn't completely dead. Just 90%. So I brought him home and started my routine of TLC. After two months he appeared to be making a pretty solid recovery. Then Saturday night happened.
We had just gotten back from Moab and Sir Kurt was adjusting the blinds at the window when I heard a loud crash and a disconcerting, "oops."
I looked over and saw that a heavy piece from the blinds had come plummeting down onto O2, cutting him clean in half.
Kurt: I was pruning it. You're welcome.
I think Kurt and Anna are in cahoots.
~It Just Gets Stranger