March 1, 2019

Rootless

For some time now, I’ve had a succulent with no roots. It sits on top of the soil, wholly unattached, yet still green. I water it every two weeks, and every two weeks, I lift it up to see if it’s grown roots. It hasn’t. It had roots when I first got it. It also had more leaves. I cannot now recall when things began to change—when it lost its leaves, its roots—but then, these last years have been a blur. Sometimes, you can move into an apartment, set everything down, and leave it all right where it is until the contractors come to repair a wall that’s been damaged for, what? Four years? Three? You have no idea. All you know is you’ve been staring at that water stain, that peeling paint, for so long you still expect to see it when you look across the room. Sometimes, you can shove everything you love into a closet, snip the ties to your foundation and not even notice they’re gone until, one day, you realize that you’re floating, or rather, skimming the surface with your feet barely brushing the ground. But your leaves are still green. You keep getting watered, and somehow, it’s keeping you alive. “I don’t think that plant is still alive,” one friend says. “I think it’s just pretending so you don’t feel bad for killing it,” and I can understand this because haven’t I, so often, done the same? Another says, “Maybe it will re-root itself if you just give it time.” I like this second answer better.

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