The decor bowled me over. Everywhere I looked, there was something more to see. Botanical prints, a cross section of pomegranates, a passionflower vine and its fruit. Stacks of thick books on art and design and a collection of glass paperweights filled the coffee table. It was enormously beautiful, a sensibility I'd never encountered anywhere, a relaxed luxury. I could feel my mother's contemptuous gaze falling on the cluttered surfaces, but I was tired of three white flowers in a glass vase. There was more to life than that.