While living in San Francisco, I discovered the best deals to be had were in the SF Flower Mart the day after Valentine’s Day.
I had taken up casual flower arranging to keep me busy after work, when Jon’s start-up life left me by myself until late at night. It was one of many hobbies I accumulated at the time, but easily my favorite. Adjusting to life in California was still new, and I often found comfort in the beauty of flowers, buying orchids to spritz daily, and cherry blossom branches to watch bloom next to our television. I visited the big wholesale market every other week, discovering the best vendors and finding flowers that suited my taste. It took me a few months and several visits to find there was a second warehouse through the back, and it was even longer before I ventured into the more intimidating decorative stores for professional florists, full of vase filling stones, finishing mosses and exotic potting soil. Every visit the flowers were there, bold and beautiful, fresh and ripe, in industrial buckets full of rubber-banded bushels. Pick your colors, grab a handful of greenery, and check out – your choices always wrapped up in a bouquet lined with yesterday’s Chinese newspaper.
As Valentine’s Day approached that first year in San Francisco, I thought it best to wait and see what was available the day after the holiday. I was happy to find that nearly every style of flower was half off, no longer useful to the public now that Valentine’s had come and gone. Cheap hydrangeas, peonies by the bucket, and roses in every color and size sprinkled the push carts in the cavernous warehouse. I bought dozens of flowers, filling every blue mason jar I owned and decorating the apartment like it was a field of wildflowers.
The next year I told Jon to buy flowers for me the day after Valentine’s. We went together, again picking favorites in overstocked bushels labeled with plastic discount signs. Then, the year after that, we booked a hip Greek restaurant on February 15th. The following year was much the same.
So now, the day after Valentine’s Day is when I celebrate Valentine’s Day. Reservations are none existent, pressure is reduced, and, as it was years before, the flowers are cheaper. Today we’re having brunch in NYC, enjoying our discounted flowers, and I have some time to buy a few heart-shaped boxes and a greeting card for 75% off.
Did I mention I don’t like roses much? I like them in nearly every sense, but not cut and put in bouquets. I think they’re too standard, too done, and maybe just too expected. Perhaps that was the beginning of my desire to tweak the holiday for myself. Who cares when, or if, you celebrate a holiday, what matters is what meaning you put into it, right? I guess that’s why I’ve always been so casual about February 14th, because for someone like me, who is deeply in love, every day is already Valentine’s.
P.S. To see more of Bonnie Lui’s art, check out her Etsy Shop!