Move your stuff, change your love life? One writer sets out to redecorate.
Reiko has suggested a mirror in my living room, where I work, and a bigger desk. "The mirror suggests possibilities," she explains, "and extends space. A desk's size has the same effect on your work as a goldfish bowl has on a goldfish: The goldfish will grow in proportion to the bowl." I find a crumbling gilt mirror upstate, paint it white, and hang it over my desk. The desk I keep. I think my work goldfish is big enough.
That weekend, a friend meets someone at a party who knows a single guy and—how random is this?—my friend and this someone exchange my and this single man's email addresses. A few days later, a flurry of emails from the stranger arrives: tiny semaphore greetings that are nonetheless literate, funny, and charming. I meet their author for coffee. More emails follow. "I'll call you tomorrow," reads one, rather portentously. I think, "Well, that's nice," but I never hear from the guy after that. Quiz: Find Out Why He Didn't Call You Back
A divorced friend, blissful in a new relationship, suggests I look in another state. (Her bedroom would make Reiko beam, as it's an interior room in a loft—carpeted, windowless, and full of pairs of things: little tables, lamps, and photographs.) "There are too many women in New York," my friend says. "The ratios are not in your favor." She is not helping the situation, either, as she has just fixed up her children's 25-year-old babysitter with one of her own discards.
I make a note to start saving for a bedroom rug and proper shades. Another friend is captivated by the janitor who works in the studio space where she paints. Do I want to meet him? Er, no. As a housewarming present, she gives me a huge blue canvas swimming with female forms. The central one seems both Madonna and child. My daughter and I love it. Before we go to sleep that night, we sit for a while in front of it, just looking.
A month later, Reiko sends me an email: "As for dating, do you know what you want? A written intention about relationships placed in a bedside table is a powerful magnet." I open a notebook, and stare at the lined pages.
Having failed to articulate my intention about relationships, I move the couch in the living room. "The concept of feng shui is about the flow of chi," Reiko told me. "It's abundance, the life force, all that good stuff. You want it to flow easily into and through your home." The couch had its back to the entrance of the room, like a road block. My daughter comes home from school, takes one look at the couch in its new spot against a wall, and bursts into tears. Possibly, there's been a bit too much change in our house.
The next week, Reiko asks, "What do you really want from your home?" I think for moment. "Only that it be a happy, safe place," I finally answer. That I not be a bower bird, scrounging for silver paper to weave into my nest, attracting God-knows-what.
"Given all that," says Reiko, "you'll want to be doing things that make you feel protected: covering the windows in your bedroom, finding a soft rug, a door for the bedroom area. You know," she continues, "once you feel safe, there's not that feeling of holding your hands before your face. You'll feel more receptive to things, more at ease. When you're open, things happen. So I'm not so concerned about your neighbor's hall."
Which is a good thing, because my neighbor has told me she's never moving.