Adulthood Goal #3: Murderer No More

And by “murderer”, I don’t mean, like, a PERSON murderer. I’m too squeamish for that. I was totally the kid in 8th grade who chose to do the digital frog dissection instead of the real thing. No, actual real-deal murder isn’t for me.

Plants, however? Now, let me tell you, I am VERY GOOD at killing plants. It’s not something I’m proud of. On the contrary; every time I walk into my dorm room and look at the empty spot on my dresser where my beautiful plant, Phoebe, once stood, I am wracked with guilt. I ache to turn back time to three months ago, to the Friday before I placed Phoebe on the windowsill, thinking she would benefit from the sun, just to realize on Sunday night that a) I forgot that I put her there, b) I forgot to water her, and c) directly beneath the window sill was the heater, which miraculously managed to start working at the exact wrong time. I’m lucky there wasn’t a fire. Phoebe looked like an old, shriveled woman by the time I remembered where she was.

I am a plant murderer.

I wish I could say that was the only time it happened. It isn’t. My friend got me a succulent plant-you know, the kind of plant that you CAN forget about without it dying-for Christmas, and she was awesome. I named her Monica. She was tall and green and wonderful. At least, she WAS, until a week later when I DROPPED HER and one of her stalks broke. I could almost hear her screaming.

I ran downstairs with Monica’s morbid remains in my hands and pleaded with my dad to do something, anything, to save her. After inspecting her for a while, he grabbed a butter knife and made a small incision into her tough soil. I couldn’t watch. With a steady hand, he poked and prodded at the incision until he had dug a long enough opening into which he slowly pushed the broken stalk. Sighing with relief, he closed up the incision with soil. Monica now had two heads.

“Is she gonna be okay?” I asked. My dad took a while to answer. He walked over to the kitchen sink and sprinkled some water over Monica’s soil. Then he placed her on the counter facing the rear window of the house. He turned to look at me, his gaze steady, reassuring. “It’s too soon to tell,” he said, and I nodded my understanding.

I wanted to take her back to school with me, but he said she was still too weak. He kept me updated my first week of school by sending me pictures of her as she recovered. “The hope is that the broken stalk will take root and become its own separate plant,” he said over FaceTime about a week into the semester. “So far, the prognosis is good. She’s drinking enough water and she’s getting a lot of sun. She’s really perked up these past few days.”

A few days ago, after a weekend without any updates, I received a text from my dad with a picture of Monica…and her new head!

“It took root!” The text said. I’m not going to lie: tears were shed.

However, this instance does not make me feel any better regarding my OWN bad luck with plants. I’M the one who almost killed Monica-my dad saved her life. Maybe I really AM a plant murderer.

But don’t they say that anyone-even plant murderers-can be rehabilitated? This brings me to my Adulthood Goal #3…



To me, one of the most classic signs of maturity is successfully maintaining a plant. It’s not a child, it’s not even really a pet, but it’s something that depends on you for sustenance, shelter, warmth, and love. It’s like having a tamagotchi, minus (usually) the emotional turmoil. Plus, they’re so gosh-darn cheerful. They really just brighten up a room.

There’s something impressive about being able to keep something other than yourself alive. When I walk into someone’s house or apartment and I see a healthy, well-maintained plant, I can’t help but feel inferior to the person whose house I’m in. How do they do it? I wonder. I can barely keep a succulent plant alive, and succulents are practically self-sufficient. What’s wrong with me?

I think it stems (get it?) from my age-old lack of self confidence. If I barely believe that I can keep MYSELF alive, how, then, can I ever even DREAM of being able to keep a plant alive? It’s around this time that I, somewhat dejected, ask my friend, “So, what’s your secret to a happy, satisfied houseplant?”

Then, the unthinkable: “Oh, it’s not real.”

Um, excuse me?

IT’S NOT REAL!? Sure enough, after sticking my hand out and feeling the leaf, there would be no doubt in my mind: that’s all cloth, no leaf.

I suppose it should make me feel better, that everyone else is faking this “mature” thing as much as I am. But when I have my apartment next year, I want people to be genuinely impressed with my ability to keep a plant alive. I don’t want a plant from Michael’s; I want a plant that I either bought fresh from Home Depot or, better yet, that I planted myself from a seed (although I may not be ready for that, quite yet). I want to learn how to make things grow and flourish, so that next year, when I’m really and truly *basically* (not really) on my own, I’ll be able to proudly say, “Thank you, it’s real,” when people compliment me on my plant-growing prowess. I mean, it’s a long-shot, and maybe it sounds stupid, but hey. If Monica can defy all odds, so can I.

So, what do you guys think? Do any of you have particularly green thumbs? Does anyone have any gardening tips? Let me know in the comments!


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