The Plant-Hating Millennial

“Millennials Love Plants,” “Why Millennials Love Plants Despite Not Owning Property,” “Plant-Crazed Millennial Buys Fledgling Baltimore Flower Shop.” Over the years, Savannah had seen her fair share of headlines touting how much her kind loved plants, of all varieties. Even the ugliest strains, like dandelions–those glorified weeds. Though where one manages to procure a bouquet of dandelions from anywhere other than an unbuilt upon lot in suburbia was beyond Savannah. Herself from a small town on the outskirts of Boulder, she associated nature with a sort of imprisonment. An emblem of ironic “freedom” that only further thumbed its nose at her for keeping her entrapped. Enslaved until she was legally permitted to leave the vicinity. And, even at the “legal age,” her parents were averse to the notion of allowing her to go very far, least of all to the den of sin (more subversive even than Las Vegas for its sin-promoting because it operated under the guise of being a “proper” city) that was New York. But she was going, it was decided. With no job and no plan in place other than the sheer determination to survive without having a college degree.

“You won’t even last a week there without an educational background on your resume. I don’t understand what you think you’re going to accomplish–other than racking up some debts that I won’t be helping you pay off,” commented her pragmatic mother, who was annoyingly named Faith. It was too dichotomous of an appellation for someone of so little faith. Least of all in her own daughter, who she was increasingly concerned over–petrified that her dreamer nature would send her right for a nice place under the bridge. That’s where all dreamers ended up, though they were so sure that they would be an exception to the rule–that their commitment to their dreams would secure them a rare foothold in the door to true happiness (a door that did not contain behind it office work or service work or any other kind of work that required surrendering your balls to someone else’s vise grip). Despite the burden of her anxiety over Savannah’s fate, it was her husband, Lowell, who insisted that they must let her fall on her face so that she could pick herself up again, and for the first time.

“She thinks she’s prepared, but she’s so unaware of how much we’ve cushioned her over the years, that I just know she’s going to come running right back if we let her do what she wants,” Lowell prophesied, sipping from a black mug with the word “CHICAGO” written on it in block letters. Now there was a city Faith and Lowell could get on board with. It was just enough of a “starter kit”–the perfect transition from small potatoes to large ones. Ideal for dipping one’s toe into a shallow taste of city life before swallowing it whole like the poison that was NYC. But Savannah wanted to swallow–in more ways than one, for she knew that the classic and timeless way to get to the top was through sexual means. That was, after all, how she talked her way into a place to stay upon getting off the train at Central Park after the epically long subway ride from JFK. He was, expectedly, an older silver fox type, minus the part where there was any trace of attractiveness on him. But he would do, for at least a couple weeks while Savannah got settled and started pounding the pavement. And pound she did, both pavement and men until two years had gone by and she had finally done that unthinkable thing when you first arrive in the city: achieved stability. With enough dick and determination, she succeeded the old-fashioned way, unlike most others of her generation who were convinced that the more debt you incurred so as to incur more “education” (a euphemism for having a legitimate excuse to sit around and pick your crack under the pretense of being an “intellectual”), the better off in life you would be…later. But who had time for later when everything in this superficial life was contingent upon youth and beauty as the ultimate means of power after money? Certainly not Savannah. And when she found herself actually buying an apartment in Greenwood Heights (she told her mother she wanted to be near the cemetery), she knew that she had won. She had accomplished what her parents said she could not without falling in line with the molded path. While yes, she still had to work an eight to six job at a hellscape of a company that specialized in advertisements for alcohol brands, she had succeeded in proving that you didn’t need to get to this high-powered point through conventional channels. If anything, it was the unconventional that led one to prosperity in New York.

Perhaps angered that they had been wrong in the surmisal that Savannah would fail, fall on her face, as Lowell had called it, her parents were only just now relenting to coming to visit her after all this time. And now that she could house them with a place of her own to stay, they truly had no excuse to put it off any longer.

From the moment they arrived, it was rocky. Dropped off in a taxi (they didn’t want to support Uber or any such medium), Faith’s first comment upon entering the apartment was that the neighborhood was desolate and depressing, and no wonder Savannah could afford to live here alone. Gritting her teeth to ignore the comment, Savannah opened her arms to embrace Mother and Father as though she could hug the unspoken ill will between them away. She could not. Lowell was slightly less biting, but nonetheless felt inclined to comment on the sparse-looking nature of the apartment. “Are you planning to decorate?” he asked, plopping down on her blue velvet couch.

“Where does one even find a blue velvet couch?” Faith inquired.

“Estate sale.”

Faith nodded. “Oh. There must be a lot of those around here.”

The conversation had already reached a lull. And it was excruciating. Suddenly Savannah was wishing they had arrived on a weekday so that she would have the excuse of needing to be at work to avoid them. But it was only Saturday morning and she had the entire weekend–undiluted with a break from them–to be forced to entertain and interact.

Faith clapped her hands together and said, in a “Eureka!” sort of moment, “Why don’t we go shopping for your apartment? Do you know of any sort of boutique-y places we can start at?”

Savannah wanted to retch at the word “boutique-y.” For one, because New York had no such entity anymore, awash in Targets and CB2s instead. And for another, because her mother’s enthusiasm for wanting to make over Savannah’s home suggested it still somehow wasn’t enough, all that she’d managed to do without the help of anyone else. The trip was sure to end in either tears or fiery rage, or a combination of the two.

****

“What kind of fucking monster doesn’t like plants? Honestly, Savannah. Are you even human?” Faith demanded after Savannah had smashed the last potted plant and crushed all the flowers with her heels.

It had happened after seven days, and she had come home to the sight of her apartment completely transformed against her will. It wasn’t even a gradual takeover, like bankruptcy. It just happened in the span of the eight hours she was away. And it was filled with all the things she had specifically said she was not interested in having in her house when she had obliged her parents in accompanying them on their decorative mission. She did it as a gesture, to make them think that she might consider their opinions about her life to be of value.

This was all negated with the destruction of the plants as she offered simply as an excuse afterward, while standing in the wreckage in her patent leather Mary Jane heels, “Millennials aren’t human.”

“Plants are. They’re living, breathing forms. Maybe that’s why you can’t relate. Even a plant has more heart than you do,” Faith sobbed, turning to Lowell for comfort as she clutched to his button-front shirt.

Savannah looked down at her feet. Crushed flowers, crushed dreams. That’s what all of this was. Her parents wanted something for her that she couldn’t give nor even pinpoint. They wanted her to acquiesce with their vision for her life. A vision that did not include living alone in plant-free abode, working passionlessly at a job and having no viable romantic prospects ergo no hope for propagating the family line. The good Copeland name. But there was no pride in that name for Savannah, who just wanted them both to leave right now so she could pour herself a glass of vodka on ice, sit down on her blue velvet couch and blast her records (she was favoring Nancy Sinatra of late). Alone. Without judgment or motherfucking worry.

But no, decorum–duty–insisted that she pull herself together, “act like a human” (meaning to suppress all of one’s own natural urges and desires) and feign emotions she was never equipped with. Comforting her mother with a pat on the shoulder, Savannah apologized, “I love the plants, really. I do.” The words hung there in the air, along with a spider plant she had forgotten to break like the others in the room. She had said what Faith wanted to hear, but it was hollow. Just like the experience of life.

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