I had seven days. My partner Autumn was at Witchcamp in Canada without internet or phone signal. A full week without communication, just enough time to create the perfect birthday surprise: a complete room makeover. She would come back unsuspecting and would be ecstatic to find her room changed – or so I thought.
It started with a subtle hint. The disassembled loft bed in the basement, the one painted neon orange, could it be painted white? Could she, maybe, borrow it and get some help setting it up? If it wasn’t too much trouble, of course?
I heard volumes between the words. I heard a desire to shift the energy of the room. I heard a longing to have her new life, her empowerment, her growth reflected in her living space. And I resonated with those hidden desires.
I reflected on the places in which I have lived. I remembered moving into a new place once, lonely after a breakup, depressed. My room reflected how I felt during move-in, dark colors, drab decorations, furniture blocking sunlight, clutter and gadgets everywhere. The opposite of what my room looks like today. Sometimes the energy of our living spaces says a lot about us.
And so I walked into my partner’s room and imagined a different energy. At first I thought I would simply set up the new bed. But with each little change I made, the project grew. In order to build the new bed, I would need to disassemble the old bed first. But in order to take apart the old bed, I’d have to also move the bookcases underneath. For the bookcases to move, however, I would have to rearrange the table and dresser. Soon it dawned on me that this was an all-or-nothing deal. I’d either give up on the new bed, or I would take apart every inch of the room and rebuild it from scratch.
I sat on the floor for a few minutes and felt into the energy. In order to do this, I would have to dig into my partner’s stuff in ways I had never before. Autumn had not given explicit permission to do so. This could backfire badly. She could come back to a room so changed that it didn’t feel like home anymore. It could make her seriously angry and disappointed in me. In other words, this could be a disaster.
The energy around me felt oppressive. Every shadowy corner told me to back away now and leave the room alone. I guess shadows like to preserve themselves. In my mind they clung to the walls and made me want to run. Instead, I grew angry. This, I thought, was exactly the reason I should move forward with this project. To exorcise the shadows. They were the reason Autumn wanted to make changes in the first place. Each sunbeam swallowed by a dark corner spoke of depression, loneliness, and disempowerment. These were shadows of the past and they needed to go and give way to my partner’s new life, one of happiness, community, and empowerment.
I let out a hiss. Shadows, be gone, I thought at the corners, past, be gone. You have a claim on my partner no longer. She has already set herself free. You’re old news. And now we – Autumn’s partners and community – will make it so!
And so I launched Project Room Makeover with the help of my other partner as well as another housemate. Together we sanded, we painted, we swept, we mopped, we took multiple trips to the hardware store. We carried furniture up and down the stairs. Our project took over the backyard and cluttered every hallway in the house. And slowly, hour by hour, day by day, the shadows fled.
I rode waves of memory and emotion. Standing in the room at a certain angle, I remembered a conflict, a difficult situation. Sometimes I raged. Sometimes I sat and let tears fall from my eyes. But slowly the room felt brighter, the energy cleaner, and my mood became lighter. I came to understand that this was powerful magic. I was touching the past and transforming it. I was trusting in my relationship with Autumn, believing that I knew her well enough to understand her beyond her words. I worked through old feelings of anger and resentment. I fell in love with her in whole new ways.
And then the new bed was set up, the windows were clear, sunlight streamed into every corner or the room and my heart. The shadows were gone. Every one of them, cast out, worked through, forgiven. The room was empty and free. I picked up each book of hers, each piece of clothing, each personal item and placed them on the freshly cleaned shelves. They all held her energy, they all contained stories of where she had been and memories I knew nothing of. I arranged them in patterns that catch the light, neat rows accenting the new flow of energy.
Lastly, I invoked life. I went to three nurseries, maneuvering several shopping carts overloaded with pots, potting soil, and plants. Geraniums, Marigold, a braided money tree, Potos, ferns and flowers. Finally I cooked dinner, baked goat milk Camembert with Midnight Margareta Marmalade and a pomegranate salad with freshly candied pecans (I love cooking “Welcome Home” meals) and drove to the airport just in time to pick Autumn up.
Except that I went to Oakland International Airport. Her flight, of course, landed San Francisco. Next thing I knew, she’s hailed a taxi and was on her way home, scheduled to arrive sooner than it would take me to drive home. As someone who usually obeys speed limits, I must have earned special grace, causing the traffic gods to gift me with invisibility. No one pulled me over, and I made it home several minutes before Autumn.
As her taxi pulled into our driveway, I suddenly wasn’t so sure of myself anymore. What if I had read the energy wrong? What if those shadows were all in my mind, and the energy I had driven out of the room was meant to be there? What if she hated what I did to the room?
She opened the door and stopped. She gasped. Then she choked. And then I thought she was hyperventilating and going into shock. I started babbling about room makeovers, pathetically imitating an overly enthusiastic TV game show host. She just stood her, not listening, struggling for breath, her eyes bulging. Shit. What had I done?
“Oh my god. Oh my god. Oh my god. Oh my god.”
Well, at least she was breathing and talking.
“That- uhm- oh wow- oh my god.”
“Do you like it???” I shrieked, a little desperate.
She bobbed her head a little. It looked like a nod. I sucked at the air, not realizing I had been holding my breath?
“Happy tears then?” I asked, ever so idiotically.
Eventually, she looked at me and nodded fiercely. She absolutely loved it.
Later that night we sat in her new room and talked. She perceived the change in energy the same way I did. We revisited many memories and compared notes on our week apart. For some mysterious reason she kept having dreams and images of her room while she was at Witchcamp in Canada.
A couple of days later I am just beginning to understand just how powerful of a piece of magic this room transformation was. It changed more than just furniture, lighting, and the energy of the space. It changed both of us. I learned to trust my intuition and lean into a better understanding of my partner. It’s become easier to ask each other for help. We’re more comfortable taking up space and sharing with each other. It has deepened our relationship and brought us closer together. And that, more than anything, was worth every ounce of paint, every minute spent, every bead of sweat and stubbed toe and sore muscle.