The other night when Asher and I were preparing ourselves for sleep, I looked up onto his dark wall and noticed a spider comfortably squatting above one of the picture frames. Turning to Asher, I politely pointed out that there was an intruder in the room.
“I know, and when you’re sleeping he’s going to come and crawl right onto your face” he responded.
I’m not particularly afraid of spiders, a trait which Asher and my father seem to think can be broken with enough grotesque images of flesh mutilating arachnids. However both their attempts to instill this paranoia in me have only proven to me that spiders are about as snobby as cats, and generally like to be left alone. In response to Ashers picturesque night time pillow talk of how spiders were going to slowly scavenge parts of my anatomy, I decided to name the spider Leroy.
I have an unfortunate habit of naming most creatures and inanimate objects in my life, thus creating intense attachment to things that were not meant to last a lifetime. My cactus is named John Wayne, my bike Ted. Now there is Leroy the spider and, of course, the one time a slug came in with the garden collection he was promptly named Gary. When I asked Asher if he had seen Gary the next morning, he looked at me curiously and asked who Gary was.
“The slug that was on the lettuce, I put him on the glass and now he’s not there”.
Asher’s eyes just get bigger and he peers at me in utter disbelief.
”Why did you keep him in the house?”
So it goes, with me collecting friends left and right and Asher shaking his head and cursing under his breath as slugs, spiders, and cacti assort themselves like old drinking partners along our windowsill.
One sunny day, I managed to find myself running meaningless errands in an attempt to avoid the cleaning ladies at the house, and while walking up the curb to the grocery store around the corner I heard a faint and distressing peeping from a baby bird struggling for life. The pavement was hot, and from the perspective of the little creature looked like a barren, flat desert being marauded by large screaming figures and metal boxes on four wheels. I kneeled next to the bird and then looked around for its nest. I had no idea what I was supposed to do, but returning it to its home seemed like the best idea. I couldn’t find the nest anywhere, so the next step was to call my best friend, who happens to be a biologist, and an avid nature lover, and therefore would know a lot more than me about what to do next.
“Let it die” she heartwarmingly said.
“I can’t let it die its little and bald and ugly! No one else is going to save it!” I was aghast at the idea that nature had any idea of what it was doing.
“Fine. Then find its nest. Don’t touch it, whatever you do. And if you do touch it, don’t bring the diseases over to me”
Horrified I searched my car for some container I could save the little bird in. Finally I found one, and brought it back safe and sound to my backyard. The cleaning ladies were still at the house and tilted their heads in confusion to see me frantically running around the backyard clutching tufts of grass and twigs before kneeling down to speak to a Tupperware container.
In a state of perpetual anxiety, I decided to go back to the parking lot and find the nest. As I was rolling my bicycle down the driveway, Asher was pulling in. He rolled his window down to smile at me and say hello and in response I waved my arms over my head and shouted
“There is a baby bird in a plastic box in the backyard! Don’t kill it!”
He blinked twice and then just nodded, shaking his head slightly in disbelief. I of course could still not find the nest and when I got home he wrapped me up in arms that love me entirely too much and said
“Baby girl, we can’t keep it and raise it, and it’s dying right now”
“Lulu” I sobbed “her name is Lulu”
“Okay. But we still can’t keep her”
I nodded and turned away while he did the hard part, a small tragedy in the blink of an eye. Later, we buried the Lulu in the backyard, and Asher made sure she had flowers. It is his unending strength and steadiness that guide me, and that he loves me so much is a testament to why I am still here. He kept his arm around my shoulders and squeezed me in tighter as I dropped a small note alongside the little bird that read:
Life is a shipwreck, but we must remember to sing in the lifeboats
That night he wrapped me in blankets and watched cartoons with me until we laughed. Leroy was still sitting comfortably on the wall and Asher breathed evenly next to me, I thanked whatever forces were at work that I had the capacity to live, and more so, to clutch his hand when tidal waves overtook me.