Once a month or possibly every two or three months, a few of its leaves turn brown and a couple fall off. It gets droopy. I see this, and I realize that I have not looked at plant for a month, or two, or three—since the last time I watered it. A wave of crushing guilt washes over me, and I love plant more than anything in the world, for its fortitude, its loneliness, its hanging in despite the odds, despite not one person among the four of us ever moving one eyeball in its direction.
I give it water, carefully choosing the temperature and pressure I think it would enjoy and wishing I had some plant fertilizer around. But I don't, of course. I look at its crappy yellow plastic holder, and I think it would be lovely to get it a new ceramic lovely thing to cozy up in, given that no humans will be doing any of that plant whispering or fondling or whatever it is you do when you are a good plant person. But I think that every time and no ceramic plant holder shopping ever ensues.
After its watering, plant gets placed back on the upstairs hall ledge where we like to shove nails, broken toys, and the odd dirty sock. Sometimes I clear that detritus away in my moment of deep passion for the plant but very, very quickly I feel I have done my duty with plant. I rush off to the next thing, to the fact we don't have milk, or March Break plans, or summer camps organized, or the day's work ever done. As I fly around trying to get it all done, I notice for the 1,000th time that we have Christmas decorations still on our front steps, Valentine's Day stickers on our front window, and Halloween spiders on the back door. I see the picture we have been meaning to hang now for five months on the bathroom wall still loitering sullenly in the floor across from the toilet. Across our dining room table are cat toys, cookbooks, popsicle sticks, and late registration slips for all the deadlines we have missed.
And this is why I love plant so much, every so often. Plant keeps on living by some miracle, and it feels like forgiveness.