I think rearranging furniture might be the key to improving romance. Not in a feng shui kind of way. This is not a column about Zen cohabitation.
I'm not a great housekeeper (sorry, Mom). But from time to time, I get into a state of being overwhelmed by clutter, and I become that B-word - you know, that five-letter B-word we're not supposed to use to describe women, but sometimes it applies - frenetic, oversensitive, snappish.
These moods arrive much to the misfortune of any poor soul who crosses my path and to the particular misfortune of the man who shares my one-bedroom, downtown Chattanooga apartment. And when that happens, I set out on a massive, obsessive compulsive, "get this junk out of my house" detoxification cleaning.
That happened a couple of weekends ago. And my beleaguered significant other was held hostage while I ordered him to "get rid of all your crap you don't need" and sent him to the trash bin with bag after bag of discarded papers and expired makeup products, while I filled sacks to take to Goodwill.
Slowly, I started to feel better.
Then, he decided it would be a good idea to move some of the furniture around. We'd talked about this before, and while I liked the idea, I had my doubts about the feasibility of the project, especially since it involved moving electronic equipment.
"Just ... don't break anything," I told him (there may or may not have been a tiny little death threat in somewhere), and retreated to the bedroom to organize the closet (his clothes on one side, mine on the other, sorted by type and color).
Some time later, I emerged and ventured into the living room.
It's incredible what a difference moving a few pieces of furniture makes. And, yes, the decluttering helps a lot, but the altered arrangement in our living room really has offered a new vantage point, both literally and figuratively.
A few weeks ago, a Tuesday night of reading, blog posting and catching up on work sent me into a mild tailspin - "We can't just ignore each other," I griped. "We need to do more activities together. Mind you, this was at 11 o'clock at night. I might have been a bit overtired/hormonal/mildly insane. Just a wee bit.
But since the Great Furniture Rearrangement of 2011, things feel a little fresher; there's a renewed sense of positive energy. And with a different arrangement, the place feels changed, more like ours and less like just mine. We're not arguing as frequently. There's an improvement to the level of stress. I'm embodying that nasty noun a lot less. And so we're enjoying each other's company a lot more. We're appreciating just being there together a lot more.
The other night, I was writing an old friend. Joe was catching up on the news. We weren't really spending a lot of time talking to each other. But when I looked over and saw him there, sharing that space with me, I felt really, really good. This was us, sharing a quiet evening at home together.
It's amazing what a difference moving a sofa makes.
Contact Holly Leber at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6391. Follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/hollyleber.