Rebekah’s (New) Pandemic Diary, Entry #2: The Case of the Money Tree

19 Jan
Photo by Rachel Claire on Pexels.com

Wow. It has been a year and we are only 19 days in. In other news…

My plants are dying. Not all of them, of course, but we have had a few high-profile casualties in the house recently. First, there was the small aloe and the burro’s tail that succumbed to some sort of powdery mildew that, try as I might, I couldn’t cure them of. They didn’t actually perish, as much as we had to do a pre-emptive disposal to save other plants from their same ill fate. (RIP, pals.) Then, we had a jumper. A high-shelf Dracaena trifasciata, or snake plant that, unbeknownst to us due to its altitudinal location, was running low on soil. A little bit of water and – TIMBER! – the larger portion of the plant disconnected from its roots and tumbled dramatically to the ground, it’s beautiful, stiff leaves lying there, all of the plant’s hard work over the previous months undone as a result of caretaker oversight. And finally, the Money Tree. Holding on by the tiniest of threads. Part of me feels like maybe I should part with it, seeing as how sparse its leaves are, but the other part of me feels immense guilt giving up on the poor thing. After all, it’s my fault it is faring so poorly. It’s current state due to some sort of err in water, sunlight or nutrients. It seems only right that I stick it out and try to bring it back from the brink, right?

The answer to that question might seem simple to you. Of course I should stick it out. I can’t just give up on a plant because it isn’t as beautiful and full as it once was. I can’t throw it out – abandoned like so many plants before it, doomed to rot in a dumpster. You might go so far as to remind me of the aloe (not the powdery mildew one, but it’s parent plant) that I rescued from beside a mailbox, barely alive. The aloe which now is so large that one can hardly see the pot in which it lives. The aloe that I am certain would take over the entire house if it got the chance. That aloe would have perished had I not seen through to its potential and carted it home. The Money Tree, however, is a more complicated case. Because, and I know this might sound crazy to you, I have long feared that the Money Tree is cursed.

The origin of the Money Tree goes back quite some time, to the summer of 2016. It was before the ill-fated election and the horrors that followed; before I packed up my bags and moved myself to New Orleans for the better part of a year. It was while I was still toiling away on the weekends at a bar too lucrative to quit, but too soul-crushing not to. I was, I will now say, at an impasse. An impasse that in true Rebekah fashion could only be dealt with by embarking on a weeks or months long change of locale. The Money Tree was a gift from my bar back which, on its face, seems like a really nice thing until I tell you that he was legitimately the worst bar back I have ever worked with. He wasn’t a bad dude, per se. But he did used to split during a busy night, take the train into Manhattan to do who knows what and then return, fully expecting to be paid in full. In hindsight, this was more an issue of poor management, something this guy was just taking full advantage of, but still. It grinded my gears. Which, also in true Rebekah fashion, I made a point of telling him.

So imagine my surprise when one day, after I told him how rude it was for him to take a 45 minute cigarette break when he was supposed to be restocking liquor and changing the overflowing trashcan so we could continue serving drinks uninterrupted, he appeared in the bar with a brand new bodega-bought Money Tree, complete with a small bow. It was for me. Ever a sucker for plants I accepted, making a point of telling him, with a slight smile, that no amount of Money Trees would erase his reputation as the shittiest bar back of all times. He had won me over, at least a small bit. I took the Money Tree home, gave it a new pot, and we co-habitated (minus the time it was watered by roommates in my absence) for the next 4 1/2 years.

This Money Tree flourished! It grew so healthy and strong I was forced to upgrade its pot, affording it ever more room. All the while, I was stymied by all manner of things. Life, the administration, myself, this god damn pandemic. Always a money saver, I found myself in a precarious financial situation. My time in New Orleans, however mentally restorative, was not exactly economically sound. Month by month I depleted the money I had put away ever so slowly since college and in June of 2017 I returned to New York City, months later than planned, vowing to never work a night shift again and, maybe, to get out of bartending all together. The former was relatively easy, though financially precarious. The latter took a damn pandemic. This past November, I got a new job. And wouldn’t you know it, coinciding with my acceptance of this new position, the Money Tree, previously unstoppable in its expanse, began dropping leaves. My fortune reflecting its misfortune, and vice versa. I look at it now, struggling to hang on, growing new, puny branches in an effort to exhibit some hope in an otherwise arid existence. And so I wonder, was this Money Tree the embodiment of my misfortune all along?

So I ask again, what am I to do with it? Can it be rehabilitated? Will its premature disposal tie me to it for all of eternity? Or am I putting too much meaning onto this gift that was, perhaps, simply meant as a friendly gesture from a misguided kid? Am I thinking too deeply into it? Most likely. So in the meantime, I gave it some water and angled it more towards the light in hopes that we can achieve prosperity together – it in the form of leaves and me, well, in the hope that we all have brighter days ahead. Tomorrow morning, barring another violent insurrection, we will have a peaceful transition of power and it is then that we can truly get to work. Perhaps this change in fortune will be the final death knell of my Money Tree, or maybe it will turn things around as well, day by pain staking day.

2 Responses to “Rebekah’s (New) Pandemic Diary, Entry #2: The Case of the Money Tree”

  1. ashlie atkinson January 19, 2021 at 1:57 pm #

    Perhaps the root (see what I did there?) of your Money Tree problem is the giver? He *cost* you money, so the tree has been avaricious. But if you regift it, to someone who really values you, maybe you both would prosper!

    • FranklyRebekah January 19, 2021 at 3:22 pm #

      (A+ pun!) This is a very interesting thought! Now the question becomes, who would want this damn thing? Hahaha

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