About a month ago, on my 27th birthday I came home to a package on my doorstep. It was a gift from my sister, a Split Leaf Philodendron or Monstera (shown in above photo on the far right of the table) that had been overnighted, wrapped securely in a garbage bag and placed inside a cardboard box with packing peanuts.
This gift couldn’t have come at a more perfect time. My head had been swarming with some pretty frustrating thoughts about my own self worth (ugh) and I was feeling overwhelmed with some recent career choices (double ugh). I kind of stopped caring about anything and really just focused on getting through the days which doesn’t feel very healthy. Getting this present from my sister was so timely, it almost felt like she knew what I needed before even I did.
If you’d told me five years ago that I would be getting houseplants as presents I would have been… annoyed. What kind of person gifts another person with responsibility and obligation for their birthday? It’s like showing up at someone’s door with a newborn and saying, “Here, take care of this forever and don’t kill it.” And while houseplants are a little more forgivable and resilient than babies, the feeling that they’re something you have to take care of and provide for isn’t imaginary.
Well it turns out I’ve taken to this new project well. I spent the majority of the last few years basically refusing to be responsible for anything other than myself. But as I’ve made great efforts to heal and care for myself, I’ve become more comfortable with the idea of being responsible again. It’s pretty low-stakes over here, taking care of fermented food related things like a sourdough starter or a kombucha SCOBY, but my new plant from my sister woke something up inside of me.
I can’t really explain it, I just connected with this new life. I was so eager to stop thinking about myself and all the bad things I was thinking about that I threw myself into caring about plants. I quickly named my little guy Sully (after Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger of Miracle on the Hudson fame), repotted him into a large ceramic pot in my room and spent hours learning how to take care of him on various websites and forums. I was careful to only water him when the top third of his soil was dry and basically just cried tears of happiness whenever I looked at him. And then a new leaf unfurled, and it had those beautiful splits in it, which meant I was doing a good job of taking care of him and he was maturing. I was thriving.
So then I bought like a million more plants.Read More