I was thinking this morning about whether or not I could consider Bill, my aloe plant, an actual friend. After a thorough inquiry into what makes a “friend,” i.e. me thinking about it briefly as a I washed dishes, I concluded that yes, Bill definitely is a friend.
In fact, he might be the ideal friend.
For starters, Bill is a wonderful listener. That’s all he’s capable of. When I sit him on the table next to me and tell him about my day he never criticizes, never plays “the devil’s advocate,” never gives “suggestions” or “advice” that are just thinly-veiled criticisms. Instead, he just sits there and basks. Basking is one of Bill’s favorite activities. Basking in the sun. Basking in the afternoon heat. Because in a slight breeze. Basking under the glow of the Guadalajara stars. Basking next to Joy, my newest aloe plant (named after the sensation I hope she brings me and also a girl in my master’s program I was briefly in love with).
Joy is my newest plant. Joy is extremely healthy. She’s robust. She’s the kind of aloe plant you look at and think, Man, I almost want to cut myself. When Marta, the lady I get sandwiches from, gave me Joy I was elated, but also instantly a bit sad. What if I kill her? I thought. What if she becomes like Bill, a creature I desperately love who’s withering in front of my very eyes? Because that’s the thing about Bill: he’s not doing much better. He also doesn’t seem to be doing much worse, but I assumed that transplanting him to the new pot with drainage and watering him less and playing him “La Follia” by Vivaldi in the evenings would instantly revive him. Does he want to die? Is Bill depressed? Sometimes I wish Bill actually was more of a talker, so he could communicate what he needs.
Another possibility has crossed my mind concerning Bill, one I hadn’t considered before: it’s possible Bill isn’t even an aloe plant. Or it’s possible he’s an aloe plant, but just a different strain than the classic, juicy, luscious green aloe plant Joy is. Right now Bill and Joy are sitting next to each other in the courtyard. I now have two plants in the courtyard. Yesterday was “watering day,” and it gave me untold pleasure to actually water them, since this is something I wish I could do every two minutes but I have to restrain myself to only do it twice a week. I have no doubt Joy and Bill are communicating, albeit in very slow, muted electronic impulses, and I would love to know what they’re saying.
Joy: “Are you…basking?”
Joy: “I love….basking.”
Joy: “Remember that sun from five minutes ago?”
Joy: “That was really nice….”
Someone said to me the other day they thought it was great I was so concerned about taking care of Bill, but that it was important I be ready in the event he passed away. After restraining an urge to punch this person in the face, I realized they’re probably right. The sad truth is it might be too late for Bill, and no amount of love and care on my part will be able to save him. I certainly hope this isn’t the case. Joy and I would both be sad. Life in Guadalajara would go on, but I’d certainly feel I’d lost a friend. Because, at this point, as I hope I’ve made it abundantly clear, that’s exactly what Bill is.