A Letter From My Dead Houseplants

Elsa Nierenberg, Contributor

Hi, this is the succulent.

Not to be confused with:

  • the cactus next to the kitchen sink that you chose not to water for 6 months because your roommate was “definitely on it”,
  • or the Boston fern that you thought was actually from Boston and left to brave sub-zero temperatures on your patio last winter while claiming it was “going to pull through because New Englanders can handle the cold”,
  • or the hydrangea that your mother got you because your apartment looked “so sad and empty, sweetie”

They’re all dead.

However, they did want me to tell you that they’re pretty disappointed and wonder if it might be a good idea for you to stop impulse-buying plants. To quote the Boston fern, “You might have better luck with some decorative throw pillow, string lights, a geometric rose gold lamp…even, like, a rock that you draw a smiley face on with a sharpie. Really anything.”

Needless to say, my sweet, well-meaning trend-follower, this is an intervention.

So, now here we are, you and me — your last ditch effort at mastering adulthood in a tiny, $40 ceramic pot shaped like a sloth that you found at Urban Outfitters. I’m the succulent – remember me?

Back in the days of my grand-plants, foliage was a finishing touch, a decorative centerpiece, a carefully chosen accent. But this is the generation of millennials. And God save us all, because you people – who don’t have attention spans long enough to keep an air plant alive – are obsessed with us.

Six months ago you were happy as a clam with an English degree from a liberal arts college: working at Peet’s Coffee by day, writing a screenplay about one woman’s solo backpacking adventure across Europe by night – living your best, most millennial, life. And that’s when you decided to buy your first plant, a harmless little aloe vera. “It’s for sun burns,” you lied to your friends, family, and loved ones while snapping Instagram photos from your exposed-brick studio apartment. We all believed you.

Flash forward and there are nearly 40 of us, strewn across your marble side tables, hanging from the ceiling in pots next to your “good vibes only” sign, strategically positioned atop your minimalist Ikea dresser. Trust me, It’s like a scene from a horror film (but the kind Wes Anderson would direct).

I’m the last one standing. I’ve got to be a voice for the fiddle leaf fig you accidentally put in the garbage disposal last week, mistaking it for old seaweed salad from Whole Foods; for the snake plant you panicked and gave to your friend Erica after forgetting it was her birthday; for the bamboo you got on sale at Trader Joe’s and then left in the trunk of your Prius; even for the little peace lily you promised you’d water and then never did.

This is it. I’m taking my last breath of photosynthesis (is that how plants live? Really, you should be the one telling me) before I shrivel up and wilt into the great beyond. Before I die, though, I’d be remiss not to ask:

Have you considered getting a garden gnome or something?

-The houseplants

P.S. The beta fish has some complaints he’d like to voice, too.

Elsa Nierenberg is a stand up comic, comedic writer, and student at Bryn Mawr College. You can find more of her writing online on Little Old Lady Comedy and Points in Case and you can see her performing stand up throughout Boston and Philadelphia.