The Essential Implications of Plant Survival

I know they meant well, but it was a sad day. It was the day my co-workers got me a plant for a wedding present. It was a lovely plant, which would make most normal people happy. But for a serial plant killer – not on purpose, okay – the more beautiful the plant, the more tragic its imminent death.
I’m sure it was not a cheap gift. The heavy, blue ceramic bowl was stuffed with crumbly earth, dark and moist, and from the center, the plant sprung up, green leafy vines draped gently over the planter bowl and hung like graceful, ballerina hands beneath it. This was going to be a real tragedy indeed.

The wedding plant, circa 2012
Sweet Southern belle that I am, I smiled politely. “Thank you so much. It’s really beautiful,” I twanged, muzzling the real thoughts, something about how disappointed I was that after two years they didn’t know me better. I mean, really, I’m getting married, and here are my friends, setting me up for failure. What does this plant supposed to represent anyway? Does it signify my marriage, its tiny, fragile roots our first years together? I hate these plant analogies. Make it stop. Please don’t let this peace lily ruin my marriage. [Hyperventilating.]
So instead of muttering something about the underlying implications of passing on such a wedding gift to a notorious plant neglecter, I thought to myself of ways Josh and I could save the plant, or mostly how he could save it, since he might have a green thumb, or at least the peace lily in his living room hadn’t committed suicide or withered of malnutrition.
Later that week, or something close to that, the plant moved in with Josh. I can’t really remember when, but I’m clear on the part where I was eager to abdicate responsibility. Especially if our marriage depended on it. Wait, that sounds bad.
The green lily in the blue ceramic bowl took root in Josh’s living room window until we got our own place downstairs in the same apartment building. And then the lily moved around until we could find just the right spot to catch the sun once or twice a day. We added three bamboo sticks and our foliage collection was complete: two peace lilies and three bamboo, pointing toward the ceiling out of an inch of water.
A plant killer only needs time to do her dirty work. And time we have. Four years later, we just said goodbye to the last yellowed and soggy bamboo shoot. The last of his siblings. It was a little sad, but we were prepared. We had four years to ready ourselves for that day. I don’t know what happened to Josh’s lily, but I couldn’t find it in this house if my life depended on it. But somehow, the peace lily the girls at the office gave me in May four years ago is still clipping along. It only gets a few days of sun a month, and mostly I forget it’s tucked in the guest room under the west window. Leaves yellow, crinkle and fall off, but that thing just hangs on. And sometimes I go and feel bad for it and impressed with its tenacity, and I give it a little water and congratulate it for its perseverance in the face of such persistent trial.
Now I know you’re trying to make an analogy to our marriage, that even though Josh and I have been through our share of harrowing experiences, and even sometimes forget to water our new relationship with nice notes and date nights, we still hang in there and there’s life and greenery to prove it. But I think that’s a stretch. And if I ever kill this plant, well that analogy stuff has got to stop right away. I think it’s best we start now.
But I think I am going to go water it, just in case.

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