|5 AM: only Melvin is awake|
Until he died and came alive, as a bonsai.
On his last day in Saratoga, my mother and I raced up 85 North toward Yamagami's Nursery with twelve minutes until closing time; we drove for ten. In a flurry, we purchased a potted bonsai and a hefty squirt-bottle of seaweed extract. I chose the only plant that could endure Cambridge winters: a tall, floppy, gangly creature with bulging joints, somewhat reminiscent of a giraffe.
I knew that he couldn't bring the bonsai on his flight, so I brought it to his house for a brief meet-and-greet. It was then that Melvin inhabited the bonsai in a startling, invigorating infusion of spirit and stem. He left before me, and thus Melvin came to be.
He spent a lot of time perched on my luggage, and after check-in time, in my lap. What stares we received on the plane, in the shuttle, and in line at Hertz Car Rental. Little Melvin looked bruised and parched from journey, so I doused him with my airplane tea.
That evening, Melvin took up residence in Matthews Hall, where he proceeded to become the star of Hashtag The Plant Channel, aired in daily installments on Instagram for a time in September. Melvin, toasted by Toaster to orangey perfection (again, a nod to his ungulate roots), became the face of acting-like-one-has-had-pot-without-having-had-pot.
From then on, Melvin's story switched tellers. When I last met him in October, he was healthier than ever, scattering small, oval patches of shade on a plaid pillow.