The Eucalyptus Gift

This short story is part of The Fever Dream Series: More than Coincidences, Something like a Dream

I have this thing where I like to get flowers for the place I’m vacationing in, it makes an Airbnb feel like home. It started in college on a drive down to North Carolina, I stopped the car on the side of the road to pick flowers for a beach rental. I kept them in a plastic water bottle for the rest of the ride nervous about whether or not they’d survive the heat. 

When we arrived, I put them in a vase on the deck table, facing the beach, so they’d still get the right amount of sunshine. I did the same thing when I moved to Maine, I picked daisies right from our backyard. We used an empty bottle of bubbly we opened to celebrate as the vase. I kept them in the bedroom on a nightstand, giving the vintage room an even sweeter touch. Now it’s just become one of my habits, picking up flowers for vacation. 

Brett will tell ya, it goes beyond flowers—whether it’s a whole week stay or just an extended weekend—I always have to get settled in and make a vacation rental feel like home. It starts when I unpack. My skincare, perfume, and makeup get put on display in the bathroom. I lay out my comfy clothes and top outfit choices. A super soft blanket usually tags along, too. A journal and at least one book sits on the nightstand. And, on the best trips, a bouquet of flowers grace the nearest table top. I really am out here doing the most, I know. Did you expect anything less?  

Now that the scene is set for how extra I am, we can finally get to the real story. For the Fourth of July weekend this past summer, we planned a trip to Ocean City Maryland with my best friends from college. I was ecstatic to have some time off to see them since we all live in different states. I was in desperate need of finally seeing my people and unplugging. Work had been extremely stressful the months leading up to our trip, with covid and a company buy out. It felt like everyone in the workplace was at each other’s throats while walking on eggshells trying to protect their job.

As excited as I was, part of me was nervous I’d have a difficult time unplugging, unwinding, and not being agitated from the daily stressors I was hoping to escape. One of my friends mentioned how she’d be doing her morning yoga while on vacation and we were invited to join. I thought that could help, but wondered if there was something else I could do to help my stress relief prior… Something a bit more extra. 

Then naturally, it hit me—I could pick up a bouquet of eucalyptus. I knew I’d probably get shit for it from my friends, but again, no one would expect anything less. Not only is eucalyptus one of my favorite plants, but it’s renowned for promoting relaxation. To really chill me out, I could even put a sprig or two of eucalyptus in the shower. Everyone would thank me. It’d be perfect. The entire week leading up to our trip, I had my heart absolutely set on getting me some eucalyptus. 

Knowing I’d be too excited about seeing my friends once we were down the shore to actually go out and get a bouquet, I racked my brain about where I could find eucalyptus to bring with me on the drive. The night before we headed down to OCMD, it clicked, Whole Foods would definitely have some! They usually have a huge selection of greenery for build-your-own-bouquets (I would know, I promise). My heart sank though when I got to the store. I quickly became bummed and bitter that there was no eucalyptus in sight. I left with cheese instead. Which looking back was still a win. I told myself I’d still have to go into this vacation positively, despite it possibly being difficult to unwind with no eucalyptus crutch. 

The night vacation started, Brett and I were the first to arrive at the beach condo. We got there just in time for sunset. We rushed through the door, dropped our bags, briefly marveled at how beautiful the space was, and ran to our bayview deck to catch the sunset over the water. It wasn’t until afterwards, when we had a moment to take everything in that I realized the condo had a familiar, refreshing scent. Brett asked if they had those fancy Febreze plugins, so I looked around to see if that was the smell. As I did that, we laughed about how maybe we’d finally splurge on scented plugins for our own place. As I looked behind the furniture for outlets and really took the time to examine the place, it dawned on me what I was smelling… I couldn’t believe it, but my eyes confirmed: It was eucalyptus, but not from a plugin or a spray. There were actual pots of dried eucalyptus throughout the condo. From our bedroom to the living room to the entryway, the whole condo was decorated with eucalyptus. I was in disbelief. 

Trying to rationalize the situation, I quickly pulled up the rental app. I wanted to see if maybe I wanted eucalyptus because I saw some in the listing photos and just forgot. Maybe it had just been in my subconscious all along. Brett and I scanned every photo but the pots of eucalyptus weren’t in a single picture. That’s the thing about coincidental moments, we’re too quick to discredit them rather than accepting them as breathtaking gifts. 

I’m telling you, the eucalyptus had such a strong scent that we think the landlords had to have just put it out shortly before our stay. I couldn’t believe that in the end I somehow got my eucalyptus, what were the chances? What a dream. My heart swooned like I had just been kissed on the cheek by the universe. As I unpacked and made myself at home, I said a little prayer. I expressed my gratitude and disbelief. It felt like a sure sign that I was meant to take a deep breath and enjoy my vacation. When was the last time you let life take your breath away? 

Sometimes we feel strongly pulled to something so we try to make that something happen on our own—and we become bummed that it doesn’t come to fruition. I believe that we sometimes feel that pull not because we need to make it happen, but because the world is already working to make it happen for us in its own way. In my heart I felt pulled to the eucalyptus to help me cope with unprecedented stress, and the world said don’t worry, we already got you baby girl just you wait and see. Ask and you will receive.

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