Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Go Buy Yourself Some Flowers

I believe in buying flowers. There seems to be a bit of controversy over whether flowers are a worthwhile investment. Especially when it comes to guys buying flowers for women--why not buy something that is going to last? You go spend a fortune on some plants that may be pretty but will just wither up in a few days anyway. I mean, what's the point if they just die in the end anyway? (I'm glad we don't apply this principle to people!)

I remember growing up how my mother transformed our small backyard in the middle of town to a magical garden where I would spend hours dreaming and pretending.  Playing baseball in the summer had its many danger zones, and decapitating a tulip was a cardinal sin. In fact, there were always flowers everywhere, inside or outside, whether living and thriving or dried and decorative. My mother would drag me to the nursery on a regular basis where she would teach me how to make dragonheads talk and how to bury my toes in velvety soft lamb's ear. I remember our basement as a jungle of hanging rose stems.

In college when I moved to my first place with some other girls, the first thing my mom did was buy some proper mums for my front porch. It's not fall without mums.  When I moved to my first apartment and got a big girl job, the first decor was some fresh flowers for my countertop. I guess I developed a habit of buying flowers so that I never thought of them as a luxury as much as a necessity. They made a house a home.

When I moved to Paris, I was delighted to find that my host dad had a tradition of bringing his wife a huge bouquet every Friday evening. So I just kind of counted those as my flowers too, and became a bit lazy about buying flowers for myself. Especially now being on an au pair budget, I felt the "don't waste money on flowers" philosophy hard.

But today the sun was shining and spring was romancing me and I knew I just had to buy flowers! So I frolicked down to my favorite market on Avenue President Wilson, and found one very promising looking hyacinth sprout for only 2,50€... a steal! On the walk home I pushed down the bag so everyone could see those happy green leaves poking through the soil. I was amazed at how blessedly happy that one little plant made me, so much so that I even smiled out in public, right there on the streets of Paris, all the way home! 

And I was reminded of why I think everyone should buy flowers. Flowers are not functional. They cannot save you money at the gas pump. They can't toast your bread and butter it too. People don't buy flowers to be efficient. They buy them because they are beautiful.

Somewhere along the way, I think we began to feel guilty for spending money on beautiful things. If it doesn't save time or money, if it wasn't a last-minute deal, if it won't last forever, why buy it. And that's a real shame. Because there is something so important about making the space around you beautiful. 

I think there is a reason the world is not all gray and flat. The icy blue of a glacial stream, the curled tendrils of a creeping vine. If you really look at nature, it's amazing to see how non-functional the most beautiful bits are. While it's not possible for all of us to set up an office in the great outdoors, flowers act as nature's doggy bag, a little reminder that there is more to life than being functional or efficient. We aren't meant to just exist, we are meant to exist in beautiful places, amongst beautiful things. That's something my mom taught me a long time ago, and Paris is now showing me everyday. Surround yourself with beauty. Go buy some flowers.

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