the heart of this flower imagines
as when the heart of this flower imagines
the snow carefully everywhere descending
e.e. cummings, somewhere i have never travelled
I've decided that fresh cut flowers are as essential as milk and bread in this house. The supermarket where I now shop has a great selection, and I've adopted a habit of ending my weekly aisle marathon there, topping off my cart with a cellophane-wrapped bouquet. At that point, the cart is so heavily laden, I wouldn't be at all surprised if it collapsed: the daisy that broke the camel's back.
There were long stretches last year when I could only buy food for a day or two at a time. I couldn't afford to take advantage of bulk discounts because I didn't have that much money up front. This month, our supermarket chain is offering a bonus 10 per cent on prepaid grocery cards, starting at denominations of $300. That's a free $30 worth of food for every $300 you spend, a no-brainer. I would have rarely been able to take advantage of that kind of saving when I most needed it. As Leah wrote once, being poor costs money.
For much of last year, spending ten dollars a week for flowers would have been preposterous. It might as well have been ten thousand a week for diamonds. Luxury is relative.
There's nothing like hanging off the brink of disaster by your fingernails to bring that truth home. I remember one of the first times in several months we were able to go out to dinner. It was just before Christmas, and we brought the kids to an all-you-can-eat-for-under-five-dollars pizza buffet. I have rarely felt so rich. I sat there with my pizza thinking, "Wow, we're just like regular people."
I feel that way now when I toss that bouquet on top of the bread, or when my grocery trip takes half as long because I don't have to tax my math-impaired brain with keeping a running subtotal on paper as I go, or when I don't feel like cooking and can say, "let's just get some pizza." Often as not, it's a couple of bouquets from the bargain buckets from which I can pull and re-arrange the freshest blooms. I still shop the grocery specials and clip coupons religiously. The pizza is usually a five dollar to-go special. But it all feels like the height of luxury.
I know it is human nature for that feeling to fade over time. And that's okay, because maybe the scars will fade too, and I can stop waking up in a cold sweat like Scarlett O'Hara on her honeymoon, wondering will I ever feel safe.
Labels: lack and plenty