My fiancé and I had a little bet going about how long I could keep a particular plant alive; a pink gerbera daisy that I had received it as a thank you gift. Since my track record for keeping plants alive is ridiculously poor, he likes to see how long I can go before a plant is dead. He likes to tell anyone who will listen about the summer when I wanted to start an herb garden. Within three weeks they had all died and I was forced to continue purchasing herbs at the store or using dried ones.
***Here’s another personal essay I wrote back in the summer of 2011 when I was engaged and I didn’t have to worry about keeping a baby alive. Just Plants****
I told myself this plant was going to be different. I had been following the instructions that came with it: keep soil moist, give it indirect sunlight and fertilize every 2 weeks. But still it seemed to be having trouble staying robust. The plant was getting worse as each day passed. The leaves were drooping and while the flowers were starting to wilt the new buds were not replacing them. But still I was persevering and one evening I thought that my plant might like to sit outside on the balcony for a short time.
Our balcony doesn’t get a lot of sunlight in the evening so I put the plant out there thinking it would be good for it. In the morning when I went to check on it I found to my dismay the flowers were now severely wilted. Although I had already surpassed the time period specified to keep the plant alive for the purposes of the wager, it was now a matter of personal pride to keep the plant alive. (At least for another four days as that is when I would see the woman who gave me the plant again and I could tell her how well it was doing). I decided to bring it inside as it was to be especially hot and sunny that day and I knew that my plant did not like direct sunlight. I would give it some water and hopefully it would perk up and some of the little buds would start to replace the flowers that were now almost completely gone.
Alas, fate had another plan. One that would not only bring my dreams of keeping this plant alive crashing down, but also leave me in a rather awkward predicament at work. Walking into the living room from the balcony, plant in hand, I dropped it. I don’t know how. I didn’t trip or stumble. The plant just fell out of the pot. As if it had its own will, it leapt from the pot hurling itself toward the white couch. It missed and landed on the coffee table. I don’t know if this was better as it came into contact with the PS3 controller. Not something my fiancé was going to be happy about when he found out.
Shocked, I stood there for a second contemplating if this had really happened. Was I really seeing dirt everywhere? Was it really on the carpet, the table, in the decorative bowl, all over the remote control and PS3 controller? Yes it was; this really just happened. This plant didn’t even give me the chance to destroy it; it decided to end its own life before the suffering at my hands became too much. Maybe it wanted to go on its own terms, I am not sure, but it seemed that it felt I was not capable of caring for it any longer. And so as I looked at the clock and looked at the surrounding mess, I came to the sad realization that I would now be late for work.
I scooped up my plant to the best of my ability and put it back in its pot as I deliriously thought, “Maybe I can save t”. I gave it some water after trying to build its soil base back up and set it on the counter coaxing it to recover for me. Then back to the living room I ventured with my trusty vacuum cleaner at the ready and to work I went, and work it was. Painstakingly, I vacuumed up every bit of evidence that would tell of the accident that occurred there. I used every vacuum cleaner attachment, getting all around the table legs and in front of the couch. I even vacuumed soil out of the PS3 controller and a bamboo placemat. I vacuumed until there was no indication on the white carpeting that any dirt had ever been near it.
It was then as I sat their vacuuming that I came to the sad realization that plants and I are enemies. Despite my best efforts they do not want to stay alive for me and will even kamikaze their very existence in an effort to escape from my care. I have tried keeping every plant imaginable alive, even cacti do not last long in my home.
Later as I walked to work, without my morning coffee, wearing no make-up, hair still damp from my shower and a hastily made lunch, (all things sacrificed as I vacuumed) I realized that not only had I killed yet another plant but my explanation for coming to work late was “I dropped a plant.”
Such a simple and benign sentence it is, only four words long, but it produced utter confusion and disbelief among all who heard it at the office that day. Forcing me to explain and relive what happened that morning.
I was determined to have a green thumb but with this final experience, and having been heartbroken again and again by my sordid relationships with plants, I finally resigned myself to living without plants and instead seek out art to fill my home.
Just no art of plants, it feels like its mocking me.