Buy the Flowers
I have very recently started buying myself fresh flowers. The super-cheap bouquets from the grocery store that cost $3.99 or so; something colorful that is probably either bad for the environment or harvested by people who are underpaid, since that tends to be what happens when you grab cheap, colorful products at grocery stores. The flowers are always something that I can’t quite identify. Daisy-esque, but weedy. The floral equivalent of a shelter dog.
(I have always loved shelter rescues. My cat was a shelter rescue. I could never imagine getting an animal from anywhere else.)
I’ve been putting the flowers in this Miradou Côtes de Provence wine bottle, which is a $10 rosé, since rosés are on trend right now and I am thrilled that one of my small pleasures is finally on trend. The wine tasted like mango and smelled like bread, and the bottle had this delicate flower that I couldn’t quite identify printed on it, and so I decided to wash it out and turn it into a vase, and it’s worked out pretty well so far.
My apartment has very few usable surfaces, and since I wasn’t about to put the vase on my bed or on top of the toaster oven that I use as a kitchen staging area, the flowers ended up on my bookshelf, right next to that plush Android doll that I bought in some kind of attempt to display personality through clutter. I root for shelter dogs and underdogs. My next phone will be an iPhone.
The plush Android was hanging out on my bookshelf specifically to hide the wires hanging out of the wall behind it; my apartment’s landline phone jack hangs from a paint-chipped cable at about shoulder height, and although I know nothing about feng shui I do know that having crumbling cables hanging from the wall draws attention away from wherever it should be towards the broken thing hanging from the wall, and so I covered up one outdated object with another.
And I looked at my bookshelf and thought this whole place is small and falling apart and filled with stuff I don’t like, and these pretty flowers don’t belong next to this dusty stuffed toy.
And then I dusted the stuffed toy.
And then I realized I didn’t have to put it back. I could put something else there instead.
So I grabbed all the paperbacks that matched the flowers and the wine bottle and stacked them up on the top of the bookshelf, and then I took the books that were Jenga-balanced on my nightstand and put them on the bookshelf where the paperbacks used to be, and then I had flowers and books and things I loved to look at on my bookshelf, instead of an old dusty stuffed toy and a crumbling phone jack.
(The stuffed Android went into a box in the closet, along with the other toys formerly inhabiting the bookshelf. It’s always easier to put an old part of yourself away than to throw it out for good.)
And I started singing to myself the Marian Call song that begins “You don’t know how lucky you are,” which is what I thought the words were until I looked them up just now and realized they’re “You don’t know how lovely you are.”
I thought lucky because that’s what I’ve been feeling lately, ever since I started setting aside half of my income for savings and taxes and debt payments, ever since I realized that I could do that and still have room in my life for $10 bottles of wine and $3.99 bouquets of flowers, ever since I realized that I’ve paid off $3,200 of debt since the beginning of the year.
And this in itself—the savings, the debt payments, having the capacity to put so much money aside—is an incredibly lucky thing to be able to do. It took putting those wine-bottle flowers on my bookshelf, and re-arranging my apartment to make it more of a home, to realize that. It isn’t sacrifice and grumbling and frustration that I don’t have enough money for a Disney vacation this summer or that the moving plan is in the “thinking about it” stage more than the “acting on it” stage. It’s lucky—and, as it turns out, it’s lovely.
So if you find yourself walking by the grocery store flowers every week and wanting to buy some—and I have, every week, for almost a year—I’d say do it. They only cost $3.99, and they might change everything.
Photo credit: Kārlis Dambrāns