Sometimes, Happiness Costs $80

For me, at least. For now.

Let’s hope I don’t kill this guy.

The other weekend, I spent the better part of a raw, blustery Saturday walking around looking for plants. My quest to beautify my home is never-ending; if I spend a lot of time in a space, investing in what that space looks like feels important to me. Flowers are great and so is the rug that I bought for the living room, but enough time alone with HGTV has taught me that I need plants and I needed them yesterday.

There’s a fancy plant shop in my neighborhood, a space full of windows and natural light and poured concrete floors, with plants and thoughtful ceramics on every shelf. I went there first but realized very quickly that everything inside was beyond my price limit. Instead, I went to Lowe’s. I bought four plants and two planters for $80. I came home, moved a bunch of stuff around my living room, plopped the big palm in the corner by the window, put the gardenia on the windowsill and repurposed a bar cart that previously held old mail and magazines from 2014 as a plant stand.


Looking at the plants make me happy; misting their little leaves and dutifully sticking a finger in the soil to see if they need water is now a part of my doddering pre-bed routine. I didn’t need the plants. I wanted them. Something about the weather that day, or the way that I was feeling when I woke up that morning — full of purpose but with nowhere to direct that purpose; in desperate need of a distraction; itching to do something — made me buy the plants. Instagram maybe made me buy the plants. Some brief blip of something I saw on a website or a magazine or at a friend’s house, maybe. This is how it works — this is how they get you. Some are more susceptible than others.

I’m trying to parse out the reasons why I feel compelled to spend money, but sometimes, it’s not that deep. Sometimes you just want a plant, for no reason other than the fact that it might be a nice thing to have — not quite an impulse buy, not a purchase with roots deep in some unexamined, unexplored emotion, either.

An impulse buy is the face mask you bought to make up for the fact that you’re shopping for wood soap and trash bags at one in the morning. An impulse buy is not attempting to purchase happiness; it’s a means of staving off the kind of seasonal depression that will settle in your bones if you let it and stay there. Happiness is the abstraction we all chase, whether we know it or not. If $80 is what it costs for me for now, so be it.

Sometimes you just want a plant or two, some greenery, a little life. It’s nice! Plants are nice. Let’s hope I can keep them alive.

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