When he was in middle school and very enthused about the Harry Potter series, Max went through a Wiccan phase. He told me this casually one day early in our relationship, and it’s a fact I’ve never quite been able to shake. He was young and discovering himself and trying to figure out what future-grown-up-Max might look like and what such a man might do with his time and energy, and apparently one of those options involved the practice of witchcraft. I, myself, began wearing blue jeans around the same time, after wearing khakis for five years straight as part of my self-imposed uniform, so I guess I kind of understand what it’s like to reinvent yourself in such a drastic and fundamental way during those critical formative years.
Though, to my knowledge, it’s been at least several years since Max has cast any incantations or earnestly mixed himself up a potion, I wonder about it sometimes. By way of avoiding admitting my own flaws/weaknesses/shortcomings, for instance, it’s usually more practical to just privately decide that Max is casting spells. This explains why his desires come to pass in a seemingly passive, convenient sort of way. For example, about 9 months ago I wrote about a little drama unfolding in our apartment surrounding houseplants. To recap: Max hates houseplants. I, however, like houseplants because they are pleasant to look at and give the impression of nature without having to actually go outside. You might call me a houseplant advocate.
I had some plants—an Aralia and a Philodendron, specifically—which I showed proudly on the blog. Oh, were they nice. And then guess what happened.
A fucking witch got to them, that’s what.
Not even this one was spared. Obviously, a spell was cast and slowly but surely, despite all my very best efforts, Max’s determined will was made manifest by the tricky and fatal maneuvers of magic. I’m literally up against impossible odds, and to be honest, it’s frightening.
To be fair, the Philodendron didn’t completely die, because I think that’s next to impossible, but it got so straggly looking that I dragged it out to the fire escape, where it’s become progressively less and less attractive over the course of the summer.
But no matter about those small fries—there were better things on the horizon. I had been hinting for months that what I really wanted anyway was a BIG plant. A Fiddle Leaf Fig, specifically. These plants have been popular for forever, but I think only in the last couple years have they become a full-out raging botanical trend, and I wanted desperately to get in on the Fiddle club.
The Fiddle Leaf is not a plant for the faint of heart. It is potentially huge, and therefore commanding. It bespeaks a kind of permanence that my smaller plants didn’t: it’s easy enough to move a couple little pots to a new apartment, but moving a fucking tree is a serious hassle. Seeing as Max would never go for a plant so ballsy and conspicuous, I always regarded the Fiddle more as a powerful threat than an actual possibility. Don’t fuck with me or I swear to god, I will put a fucking tree in that corner.
I don’t remember exactly when the pendulum swung, but at some point either before or directly after the inevitable purchase (which was eventually made out of passion, not rage), Max warmed inexplicably to the idea. If memory serves, it was when we brought the thing home and propped it up in the corner. “Oh,” Max said, “it’s so…glamorous.” And just like that, Max became a fan of at least one indoor plant, and my ability to predict his likes and dislikes reached a new level of ineptitude.
Right now it’s chilling in the living room corner by the newly-painted radiator, but I might move it around at some point. I couldn’t really love it more, what with its sexy green leaves and enormous scale, it makes a huge impact and is apparently something that both Max and I can rally around. I basically want it to GROW GROW GROW and totally take over the room, or at least come close to the ceiling. How glorious would THAT be?
Of course, the flip-side of loving something so delicate so much is the emotional toll of always worrying that it’s going to die. This corner gets tons of natural light, which I’ve read is very good for fiddles, and I’ve been trying to water it enough but not too much, rotate it every so often, and generally pamper it to make it feel loved, wanted, and fully accepted. I think it’s doing well. Then again, I don’t actually know because it’s a plant and plants are mysterious and notoriously quiet when it comes to complaining.
But it seems happy? Sometimes it sheds leaves but other times it grows new ones? Fuck, it’s totally going to die, and along with it, my dreams.
Because it’s pretty large and is set to only get bigger, I heeded the advice of the woman who sold it to me and transferred it to an 18″-20″ diameter planter. When she recommended that, I just nodded, thinking sure, whatever lady, IKEA’s practically around the corner, not realizing that 18-20 inches is BIG. Bigger than anything IKEA sells. Home Depot, Lowes, the usual modern home-goods suspects like CB2 and West Elm—nobody had anything. I figured an outdoor planter would be my best option, but have you seen outdoor planters lately? They are all fucking hideous, not to mention expensive, which isn’t really a problem when you couldn’t pay me to put one in my house anyway.
But then, oh joyous day, I went to Target and this huge white vaguely-retro-looking planter was waiting for me! It looks convincingly like ceramic but is actually fiberglass, so it’s very lightweight, even when filled with 8,000 tiny bags of potting soil and a tree. It was also on sale, costing all of about $35 if I remember correctly. Which is good because the plant inside of it was not exactly a bargain. Stupid New York City garden center prices.
Please, please don’t die. I will be lost without you. Grow big and tall and strong, my beautiful Fiddle baby, and be not harmed by Max’s hocus-pocus shit.