Plants absorb the wayward humanity of New York City. Our congested metropolis is expensive, stressful, and often void of the shapes and colors that human beings need to feel connected to nature and the larger universe. So New Yorkers take their plants very seriously. In an urban setting that many find too unfriendly to raise children, we direct our untethered love and attention to our friends, our pets, our jobs – and our plants. Especially our plants.
COVID-19 has been devastating to the collective humanity of New York City and the plants we love and care for. The green plants we water on sunny window sills as we look at the leafy plants in the windows of nearby strangers. The struggling plants we gently turn in our hands, examining their dark soil and pained contours as if they held the answers to our own sadness. The lanky plants looming like quiet, make-believe friends in the corners of our apartments and who know all of our secrets.
And the plants many have had to abandon because of COVID-19. The plants dried like windblown clusters of autumn leaves in the unlit windows of empty apartments. The plants, now leafless and long forgotten, after unemployment and rent became too much to handle. The plants, once placed in celebrated sections of the rooms where we loved, laughed, and lived, now lay prone on a heartless sidewalk, surrounded by trash and sprawled dirt that was once a home. These have been tough times for New Yorkers and our plants. But we will come back. The plants in this city are just as tough as the people.
There will be life and light in our windows again.