I had been begging for a houseplant, and so my girlfriend got me one. Our apartment faces north, and I have a sort of inferiority complex about the amount of light that we get in our place. We’re at the back of the building, looking over a parking lot; the light is constant through the day, but it’s never streaming beams. Sometimes when I can see that the sun is shining brightly onto the buildings across the street, I go outside to the front of our apartment building, and I look up into the windows of all the sunny side apartments and try to gauge how much golden light they are getting in their living rooms. Is it very bright? How many plants can they support? These are the luxuries of my concerns.
My girlfriend got me a large fig variety. It doesn’t grow figs, just big green leaves. We found it at a nursery out by the water in Brooklyn, and once I saw it I just wouldn’t let the issue go. We ended up returning a week later to get it. Really it’s a tree. I saw my friend Johanna out on the street one day, standing next to her car in the sunlight and smoking a cigarette, with a large fern sitting in her back seat. I asked her if the fern had been expensive and she answered that the thing about plants is that you can’t control when one is going to talk to you, and sometimes it’s sad because it happens in Home Depot, and you know the thing is going to end up dying, but you have to take it home and love it anyways.
A lot of plants can’t deal with the amount of light in our place. I have a few that pretty much suffer through their lives, putting all their energy into just hanging on to existence. It could also be that our place is too dry for them, I haven’t figured it out. From the moment we brought the fig in, though, he has appeared to be high on life. His leaves when we bought him were about the size of small salad plates, and over the course of two months he started sprouting giant foliage the size of a medium sized pair of underwear, or of a small tennis racket. He has grown about a foot in both height and width since November, and the huge leaves keep on coming, one or two each month. It’s very reassuring to learn that our home is in fact able to support life. This morning I checked him out and found that he is sort of making too much girth for the space that he is in, and his leaves are beginning to bump the window. My first thought was that somehow the plant would have to become smaller. Our place is small, and I can’t change that. After a few more seconds, it was obvious that we could just move the record player, and let the plant keep growing more massive. I am curious to see what it’s going to do.