Sometimes I find myself thinking about all the things my houseplants have witnessed in their silent—but I maintain—supportive, way. There is something to be said for another living being, even if it is an unruly fern or a homely cactus, being a party to all the pain, hope, love, excitement, anxiety, and so on, in life. Perhaps this is why I can’t seem to stop buying plants. Why every little blank space I see, on our bookshelf, on the filing cabinet at work, on the corner of the TV stand, is a plant spot just waiting to be occupied.
I think about my cactus Lorenzo in particular. He was my first houseplant, and I got him when I was 22, shortly after I moved out of my college apartment into my first real apartment, a studio in downtown Des Moines where I hung a shower curtain (to be fair, it was cute and floral) to separate the “bedroom” from the living room. It was the kind of apartment you’re in awe of at that age, one that caught the reflecting light and harsh angles of the towering bank across the street in the mornings, tossing straight-line shadows across the floor and walls, bending its orderly façade into new shapes. Lorenzo is derpy at best. You can see the rough edges of the places where he has simply lost an arm once it got too heavy. And where new arms have grown in downright disorderly ways. Still, seven years later, Lorenzo keeps growing and thriving, in his own weird way. Continue reading