I once dated a man who said he’d bought a new set of sheets shortly before he met me. He said that he’d hoped that if he made his bed nice, he might find a nice woman in it.
Although his penchant for yelling at cab drivers and shaming meat eaters eventually drove us apart, those words stuck with me. Sometimes you need to take an action not for its literal impact but its symbolic one. Hogwash? Maybe, maybe not. We all do it at some point: buying a new outfit for a big job interview even though the closet is full of wearable alternatives, or putting on the sexy panties even though no one may see them. Doing so makes you feel in control and ready to be interviewed. . . or bump into your own personal sex god on a Thursday afternoon.
And sometimes we need these little tricks more than others. It’s about building mojo, right? You know that post-breakup phase where you spend weeks on the couch watching TV and eating cookie dough? What’s your ritual for remembering you’re a woman again, finding the chutzpah to put on some heels and go out?
I’ve found that making one’s bed is as good as any other. I recently moved into a new apartment. Nicer, but much smaller than my previous home, it’s required a lot of creative organization and hauling boxes of non-necessaries to a nearby donation center. I’ve enjoyed the process of shaving my belongings down to the basics again, even though it’s taken about seven weeks of hard work to finally banish every box and stack of stuff.
Although I wanted an entryway that didn’t require hiking boots to scale, or have people over for dinner they didn’t have to hold in their hands, what I really obsessed on was my bedroom.
For one, I believe a bedroom should be a sanctuary from not only the outside world but also any of one’s own day-to-day stressors. Stacks of boxes belching clothes and odd stacks of papers made my bedroom feel more like an airport than an oasis.
More than that, the state of my bedroom symbolized my heart. Okay, my libido, but my libido’s issues were my heart’s, not my body’s. I’ve been running this magazine and loving every minute of it without actually having any sex since the day it launched. Or maybe I did, but that’s the point–I can’t remember when the last time was I had sex with the man I was seeing around that time. Our little relationship began calmly, ended calmly, even our fights were calm. Is there anything worse than apathy?
I had had a string of colds and flus all winter, my apartment was falling down around my ears, and the lack of passion I was feeling or eliciting made me feel like a lump of Kleenex.
So, more vitamin C, a new apartment, and no men. Humbug.
Working on my bedroom became a ritual for restoring my interest in the opposite sex. It worked firstly because it restored my interest in myself–I wanted to show off my cute new pad, what a clever decorator-on-a-budget I was, and test the new bed frame. (You can’t really figure out how sturdy it is just by sleeping on it, right?)
It also worked because I had used the condition of my last apartment as an excuse not to let someone in, literally as well as emotionally. Now I was preparing a lovely space I could be proud of, and would have no such excuse if I got involved with someone today.
As I added each new piece to the room–a pair of curtains, a vintage desk, pictures I hadn’t bothered hanging in my old place, I became more and more ready for someone to see all this.
Because there are many ways to reveal yourself other than taking off your clothes–if someone cares to look.
“You didn’t seem very impressed at the way I’d made my bed,” someone teased me a few mornings ago. We were re-assembling his bed and I laughed. I told him I’d probably had other things on my mind the night before than how tightly his sheets were tucked.
“My grandma always told me,” he said with a grin, tossing me a pillow, “That people would like me if I made my bed. I’m gonna have to call her.”
A few nights later he was here, for the first time. The last time he’d come to my home I’d met him down at his car, refusing to let him in, citing “a mess.” Now, his shoes were off and I had taken extra care to smooth the new bedspread across my bed.
I was ready.