Going for Growth : A Love Story About Plants
In an exclusive essay for Tictail, collage artist Elise Peterson shares how plant care can be self care.
I can see the trees swaying as the sun fights through the cracks of my blinds. I reach over the edge of the bed and feel around on the floor for my phone, looking at emails, Snapchats, and Instagrams until I’ve almost scrolled myself back to sleep. I check my horoscope before logging off. It’s 6:30am and everyone still seems to be sleeping in my corner of Bed-Stuy. I start thinking about all of the things I have to do that day. I’m not tired anymore, but I wish I was. My heart starts racing. Deep breath in through the nose, out through the mouth. I masturbate twice before peeling myself out of bed. Tip-toeing into the kitchen so as to not wake my still-sleeping girlfriend, I sit down in the cozy chair with the marigold tapestry that sits in the corner of my living room.
I refresh my emails, check in on my sister’s last volleyball game, and do a quick search to see if the kitten I obsessed over last week is still listed on Craigslist. I light my stick of Palo Santo and watch the smoke curl until it dissipates. I pour a glass of water with a squeeze of lemon and take a long sip. I notice there’s a thick residue building up in the glass vase on the mantle. Keeping the peace, I quietly pick it up and watch as the water sloshes around bony stems. The marigolds are the loudest thing in the room. I pull them out and gently place them on the countertop. I wipe the inside of the glass, taking my time, and fill it up again with just enough lukewarm water. The stems slide back into position, back in their rightful place on the mantel.
I imagine myself to be an old woman in her garden, tending to her newest crop of tomatoes. Instead, I’m in my living room grooming my latest purchase—a succulent. With watering can in hand, I move from plant to plant. There are some perched on the windowsills; there are others on countertops, nestled in corners, or even gracefully hanging from the windows. One by one, I water and tend to each. For those 20 minutes, I do not think about emails. I am not consumed by the FOMO I felt for the event I couldn’t pull myself together to go to the night before—or even the affirmation of my horoscope that “this is your time...hold on because soon you will reap the seeds of your labor”. For 20 minutes, every morning, every day, I am quiet, unbothered by the fragility of my own humanity. The only thing on my mind is growth.
Feeling inspired? Shop Elise Peterson’s top plant-inspired picks.
Photographs by Anna Ottum