I dug my fingernails into the stem, forcing the woody fibers apart. “Damn you, plant! Get out of that pot!” I tore at the beautiful green thing, crying in desperation. I wanted to keep the pretty green glass container that had hung in my kitchen window for years, while I nurtured the plant that I had put in it. I had celebrated when it finally starting putting out new leaves, admired the way it coiled itself up the cord from which it hung. Now I was killing it, brutally – breaking it into pieces, chopping it apart with what was left of my fingernails. I finally pulled the entire root ball out and threw it into the trash. I wiped down the container, and dropped it in the waiting bin. “Got it!”
No time to grieve the loss, just get the fuck out of here and deal with it later.
As I made my way to the lobby with yet another bag of last-minute odds and ends, I staggered. I’d been up and hustling since 7 am, and it was now nearing midnight. I had to get the rest of my stuff out of the space. My landlord, true to form, had assured me that a late exit would mean he’d assume I was extending my lease, therefore allowing him to retain an additional month’s rent. At $6500 a month, that was not an option I could afford.
The street looked ugly to me under the lights from the huge LED billboard on 33rd Street, the gargoyles from the church across the street laughed at me as I threw yet another bag of trash into the back of my pretty new car. The new car smell would never survive this evening. I put it into gear, and we headed out to drop yet another load of trash on 30th Street, between 10th and 11th Avenues, where it was legal. Trash day for my neighborhood was not for another two days, and I had a pile of bags still to be disposed of. A blue moon bulged heavy and full next to the black outline of the skyscraper on 6th Avenue. Manhattan, in its awfulness and beauty, lay before us, garbage-strewn streets, puddle on the corner reflecting the neon from the corner pizza place. As we came around the corner of 11th Avenue, a bicyclist suddenly cut in front of me from the left, going the wrong way on a one-way street. TC swore vigorously, his patience worn to a thread. I resisted the urge to ask him to chill out. One our last trash run I had tried to get him to refrain from yelling at pedestrians, so he turned his venom on me. I had only two more days before I’d be heading out of the city. I didn’t want any bitterness to mar our last hours together. I didn’t blame him for cursing. I would have myself, if it would’ve done any good. As it was, I was way too tired to complain. I pulled up to a pile of trash on the curb, numbly put the car in park, hopped out and started dragging out my bags of trash, piling them on top of the ones already heaped there. In my bags, who knows how many dollars’ worth of cleaning products, paper products, plastic bins, things I could not keep – things that were trying to keep me from making a clean exit from New York.
I flashed on the image of that plant I had just destroyed. Guilt flushed my cheeks. What kind of person am I to so viciously attack an innocent plant? Could I not have given it away intact to a neighbor? Did I have to keep that container? I put it out of my mind, grabbing another trash bag, and dropping it on the curb. Like Scarlett O’Hara, I thought, “I’ll think about that tomorrow.”
It’s been a week since that night. And in the thousand miles I have driven since then, I’ve had plenty of time to ponder my exit–plenty of time to try to justify my behavior. “I was a little crazy,” I say to myself. “I was like an animal in a
trap, chewing off my own foot to escape.” But I still feel bad. I imagine in the coming year on the road I will forgive myself. My other plants were already safely ensconced in the homes of my neighbors. There were no witnesses to my botanical crime of passion.