Two weeks ago I had a nervous breakdown. I’m not sure if that is the correct diagnosis. But what else would you call being balled up on the floor, gasping for air between heaving cries?
“I hate this house!” I admitted out loud. The truth echoed through the mostly empty room and I cried harder. My bobtailed cat, Copper Soup, sat three feet away, staring at me with confused and sympathetic eyes, unsure how to handle the situation.
I’m sure you’ve noticed that my last post was almost two months ago. When I first stopped writing, I thought it was because writing was hard. A few weeks into the void, I realized that I wasn’t writing because I didn’t have a space to write.—This house is 900 square feet of cold and unmotivating white cement, like a cell devoid of inspiration and imagination.
The following Thursday night, Justin left to visit his mother for the weekend. On Friday, I woke up with a mission. First, I dismantled the too-big-for-this-room daybed that took up more than half of my home office. Then, I repositioned my standing desk, swinging it around so I’d no longer face the wall with my back to the door. This is when I started to cry. I fell to the floor, noting the out-of-body experience of watching myself heave yet powerless to stop the wails. Raw, animalistic emotion poured out of me. I scared myself. I scared my cat. But the feeling of release was undeniable. So I let it happen.
When I regained control, I drove to the corner store and bought a pack of cigarettes. (I don’t smoke, so the only cigarettes I can tolerate are the mellow yellow American Spirits). I wore my sunglasses inside so the clerk would not see my puffy and insecure eyes. I drove home and inhaled, a trick to distract my nerves from further convolution.
On Saturday, I cried again. This time the outburst came first thing in the morning. This time the release left me feeling empty. With no tears left to cry and no one coming to save me, I smoked another cigarette, this time exhaling everything that was out of my control.
“Living here is out of my control. I mean, sure I could move. But this is Justin’s house and I don’t want to live without him. So if I don’t want to leave Justin, then I better figure something out.”
By now it was mid-morning on another beautifully sunny day in Southern California. The sun’s light shone through my home office windows, creating a blinding effect against the semi-gloss white walls.
“You’re the worst,” I said to the completely bare south wall.
“Wait, no, you’re the worst,” I corrected myself to the also naked north wall.
“I never want to see you again,” I said to the poorly patched holes on the east wall.
“I’m the boss,” I said to the pencil scoffs on the west wall.
Still feeling the surge of nicotine in my veins, the last statement begged to be repeated. “I’m the boss.”
I built a throne of pillows in the corner and took my new position as Queen of the room. Thy kingdom is a blank canvas. I spent the rest of the day on the floor in my makeshift comfy chair, imploring my imagination to summon a solution for these white walls.
Ok, now you are going to think I’m crazy. At least my mother did when I described to her my “ah ha!” moment. Then again, you aren’t a Judgmentalstein, are you? I should give you the benefit of the doubt.
The first clue came from my psychic. (Did you just roll your eyes? Come on! Give me some credit, it’s not like I called 1-800-TAROTME.) Robin and I are in a Spanish class together. After getting to know her for a few months, I thought it would be fun to do a reading.—To start our session, I placed my hands over hers so she could feel my aura.
“You have no foundation,” she said without hesitation.
“I have no foundation,” I said to myself, readjusting the pile of pillows as they slipped out from under me. How could I transform this room into a space that makes me feel grounded, calm, and balanced?
I put my palm on the wall. Cold and lumpy. A dozen coats of paint wouldn’t be enough to disguise the seams of cement blocks. But wallpaper would!—One problem solved, a new one appeared. Do you know how many different types of wallpaper there are?!?
Self-proclaimed Queen of the room, I next sought guidance from the ancient wisdom of feng shui. That’s when I had my second breakthrough: Brick to represent foundation, stability, and strength. I ordered ten rolls of brick wallpaper from Amazon and got to work. By the end of Week One, three of the four walls showcased an earthy red.
According to feng shui, water represents the unknown, mysterious, and full of possibilities. Wood symbolizes expansion, branching out with strength and confidence. And fire represents healthy emotional connections. Yes, yes, and yes! I want all of these things.
I turned to Etsy, where I searched for a wallpaper pattern that could represent each of these elements and landed on a black-and-white, large-scale peony print. Water and Earth, check! Then I brought warmth to the wall with an electric fireplace (a $300 value purchased on Facebook Marketplace for $70).
I also bought two dressers on the Marketplace as well as a big comfy corner chair.
Two weeks ago, this room was a totally different space. Two weeks ago, I couldn’t stand to sit here, and besides, there was nowhere to sit.
Today, I wake up in the morning, excited to drink my coffee in my room. Today, my walls are grounding and inspiring. Today I see color, and the future is bright.