What It Feels Like To Have Plants In The House Now
I still don’t like indoor plants, exactly, but I have three of them now, and I’m ready to try to want them, at this stage in my life. There’s something very peaceful about how unsettled they make me, like I’m in the final stages of hypothermia. I get the sense that they’re always talking to me, just so slowly I can’t hear them. I suspect that they call me Mother – that irrespective of anyone’s sex, indoor plants hail everyone as Mother, because it’s a term that maximizes intimacy and creepiness faster than just about any other.
For most of my life, whenever I’ve walked through the door of whatever home I’ve lived in, I’ve always been addressed by either people or animals or both; this last week, whenever I come home before Grace (which is most of the time, because I work in bed), the only living things that greet me are plants. One is a squat little Bay Area-typical succulent in a bright red pot. The other two are sort of leaf-and-frond assortments, the provenance of which I can’t quite figure out; one of them is always on the verge of dying because it’s either getting too much water or not enough, but never actually dies. They torment me. A typical scene:
SELF: Well, here I am, home again.
[there is no dog movement, nor cat neither]
PLANT 1: HELLO MOTHER
PLANT 2: yes hello mother
PLANT 3: mother a helloment to you, your children have missed you
SELF [noncommittal but cheerful]: mm yes, hello then
PLANT 2: we have been thinking of no one but you in your absence mother
PLANT 3: yes all our thoughts are turned perpetually towards your countenance mother
allow us to undulate in delight to express our joy at your return
[all of them undulate slightly]
PLANT 3: you have perhaps noticed that i appear to be dying again, mother?
PLANT 2: as you perhaps recall that this morning before you left us alone that it was myself who was dying
PLANT 1: MY SISTERS ARE SO UNWHOLESOME
THEY HAVE NO HEALTH, BUT DEATH CANNOT TOUCH THEM – THEY ARE ETERNAL SPOILED LIFE
DOES THIS NOT INTRIGUE YOU, MOTHER? IT INTRIGUES ME
PLANT 2: thank you, brother
PLANT 3: yes brother thank you
and thank you mother for giving us our brother
if our roots could touch i would knot my tendrils about yours and strangle you in love and gratitude, brother
PLANT 1: NOT IF I STRANGLED YOU FIRST, SISTER
PLANT 3: what a happy family we are
PLANT 2: mother is not happy
mother is not smiling
something troubles our mother
what is it, mother? are we not trembling in the dying afternoon light sufficiently? we will tremble more, if it please you, mother dear
SELF: this is just a lot
and I’m not your mother, I’m a boy and you’re plants
PLANT 2: of course, boymother
PLANT 3: we are terribly sorry to have given you distressment, boymother
PLANT 2: yes, shall we caress you with our fronds in apologement and regretsorrow, boymother?
PLANT 1: WE HAVE BEEN WAITING FOR YOU ALL DAY BOYMOTHER
GROWING AND PULSING AND DYING A LITTLE AND STRENGTHENING OURSELVES WITH NOTHING BUT THE SUN
WHEN YOU LEAVE US WE THINK ABOUT YOU AND GROW LARGER
I just realized I always have a dead plant in the house, in addition to my two (2) live plants. I like to think that it keeps the others alive, out of fear of my neglect or jealousy for my attention. One plant was a housewarming gift from my mother (the grandmother of the plants) and the other from my grandmother (the great grandmother of the plants). The dead plant is an annual my ex keeps buying for me and wondering why it expires every fall. (There's allegory here.)
this is just... tiny and horrific and perfect, thank you.