Wednesday, April 28, 2010

My Plant

My plant is dying.

This is affecting me more than I ever thought it would, and although I'm predicting this to be a mind numbingly boring post,I still have to write it. For my plant. A eulogy of sorts:

I bought my plant four years ago at a corner store in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn; one with a half a dozen cats strolling around and a handful of old ladies scattered about on their rocking chairs.

"What plant do you want?" an old woman said. I scanned the store, clearly unsure of myself and my surroundings. I stuttered a little, and the old woman smiled.

"We have plants that grow tomato's, herb plants, whatever you'd like."

"What does that one do?" I said. I pointed to the far corner at a little plant with three giant leaves. The old woman stared at me and then back at the plant. She nodded, knowing we were a perfect match.

"That plant just grows," the old woman said. "It doesn't do anything." And I bought it for five dollars.

At the time I shared a three bedroom apartment with four other men (young men). It was a very smelly place. In fact, it was a very smelly time in my life all together, but one I'm very fond of.

The plant stayed in our living room, expelling fresh oxygen from our thick musk. I watered it everyday. I bought little blue sticks to put in its soil (plant food), and bought a spray bottle to keep its leaves fresh and moist. In a way, it was the first thing I ever took care of as an adult, and I loved it.

I drank a lot of beer around that plant. I only worked about fifteen hours a week and didn't have the money to go out much, so as you can imagine I stayed in most nights. Just me, my roommates, and my plant. My buddies! At night I would take the plant into my room, partly because I worried one of my roommates would knock it over if I left it alone, but mostly because I liked the company. I would put the plant on my bed and write with it at my side. It was a good companion, letting me do all of the talking, and every few minutes when I felt all alone I would peak over my shoulder and see it stretching wide, a smile of sorts, and I'd watch it continue to grow.

And then we moved. To a two room apartment in Bayridge, Brooklyn, and I shared a bedroom with a friend. I didn't own a lot of things at the time, basically just a mattress on the floor and a lamp and a nightstand I found during a garbage night. But I also had my plant, all I really needed, which I set up next to my mattress so we could sleep side by side. From the floor we could see a window, and on clear nights we could see stars. It was very nice, actually, and my plant and I looked out at the universe together, both continuing to grow.

And then winter came. My apartment didn't have good heat, or any heat some nights, and the window, which we used to love, was now just a doorway for freezing air. One morning I woke up and could see my breath and I was shaking from the low temperature. I turned to my plant and saw it drooping, a frown of sorts, and I quickly went to see my landlord.

"This apartment is too cold!" I said. "My plant will die. Don't you realize that? My plant!"

He gave me a curious look, was silent for a moment, and then said he would fix the heat in a few days time. So I left and bought two space heaters. I put them right next to my plant, surrounding it to make sure warm air touched all of its open surfaces. If this was the first thing I had taken care of in my adult life, then I was not giving up on it now. I couldn't give up on it, and I started thinking of all the different ways to mend my little plant back to health. I thought about giving it warm water, maybe tea. But of course I didn't. It's just a plant, I thought, I need to relax! And then I slowly looked over and touched its wrinkly leaves, trying their best to keep growing in my freezing, dark room.

But then the next day it was better. And the day after that it was healthier. My plant turned fresh and smooth again, and it grew and grew. My heat was fixed, and then it was spring.

And then, if you can believe it, I got an actual bed! I bought a wire to hang my plant up next to our window, I got a girlfriend, a full time job, and started becoming busier than I ever imagined. Life was good. But I still took care of my plant the best I knew how, always taking the time to water it with my spray bottle, write next to it, and even talk to it sometimes. My buddy.

One night, on my birthday, I took something, which we'll just call a substance, and I connected with my plant on a level I've never connected with another living entity. I could write more about this, but there's no need. I'm happy just having that moment be between me and my plant.

Then I moved. Again. This time to a place with my girlfriend in Bushwick, Brooklyn. It was much nicer than any other place I lived in after college, and it's safe to say the smelly time in my life was coming to an end.

I worked, went on vacations, wrote, played music, and always came home to my plant hanging by my bedroom window. It was big now, so big that it stretched almost two feet wide, and life went on.

And then, two months ago, I saw something I had never seen. A brown leaf. My plant had a dead, brown, wrinkly leaf. I did some research and quickly learned I should pull the dead leaf out, since it was sucking up the plants energy and life. So although I didn't want to, I reached down to one of its stems and removed it. My plant didn't do anything. Of course it didn't, it's a plant. So I went out to dinner.

Weeks went by, more working and living, and I kept seeing more brown leaves. So I kept picking them, until I noticed my plant was much sparser than ever before, and if I kept picking its leaves it would soon be left with nothing. So I started giving my plant much more attention. I'll admit I'd been neglecting it a bit for the past few months, but that was over now. I started watering it daily, never missing an afternoon. I used my spray bottle to moisten its leaves. I even got fresh plant food and sprinkled the proper amount on its soil as often as it was recommended. It was just like the old days. But there were still more brown leaves. Each day a new, brown leaf, and even the remaining green ones seemed weaker than usual.

I was confused, and oddly enough a bit angry. I wanted to go back to Bensonhurst and yell at the old women rocking in their rocking chairs that my plant was dying. That I was doing everything I could to make it better, but nothing would work. And then my girlfriend, who noticed I was getting a little too worked up, said something I'll never forget.

"Sometimes things just die, Sean." And she was right. There didn't need to be an explanation. Maybe my plant was just dying. Nothing else to it. So I thought about taking it outside and putting it back in nature. If it's going to die, maybe it should be in the earth. But I can't. I'm too selfish. I need to see this plant to the end. If it's the first thing I've ever taken care of as an adult, then it felt wrong to abandon it.

And now I'm just watching it get sicker and sicker. Everyday. There's no more growing for my plant, just brown leaves, ones that I'm too scared to tare off because there's so few left. So I'm just leaving it by my window now, letting it stare out to the world, our world, just like we used to.

It was a good plant. My first plant. And you know what? Working on this blog is a lot more fun with my buddy at my side.


  1. Hey you could try repotting it. Sometimes they need more room for their roots. (Sorry if I'm being too literal and this is supposed to be more of analogy or something.)A tree from my childhood was one of my most trusted friends. Hard to let those generous, patient growers go. Nice story.

  2. maybe it gave you all it has to give...

    maybe you should compost it and use it to fertilize a new plant...

    maybe just maybe it snuck out and put that post it on the subway...