Lucy Ferriss


I've called this blog "Travelin' Thoughts" in the past, because I kept it mostly as a journal to record impressions of new places and cultures. But in a way, it's still a place for traveling thoughts--ideas that move through and past me, and out into the world. Some of these are literary, some just about life. It's a good place to open up the conversation, and I welcome your thoughts and comments.

Home in Montmartre

May 29, 2018

What of all this traveling, then, and this return to Paris, this apartment I have been calling home that is not home, with its jumbled collections of antiques and kitsch, its assortment of homey sketches and abstract paintings on the wall, its sad little kitchen and bohemian neighborhood? I am more affected than I thought I would be, now that summer has arrived, by being on the rez-de-chausée. In many ways, it's a good space to work in, as it's easy to feel as though I've burrowed into a writing cave, shut away not just from Montmartre or Paris but the world. On the other hand, I have to crane my neck out the window, still, to see the sky. The people passing on the street feel far too close. The buildings opposite feel like walls holding me back. I cannot stay in too long; I have to go out, walk up to Sacré-Coeur, to Caulaincourt for an ice cream.

Sacré-Coeur at around 10:30 at night in May.

I also keep discovering things. This week it was the Cimetière de Saint-Vincent, whose wall I'd seen, but I hadn't realized there was an entrance, just up the stairs by the métro, across the street, and sharply to the left. No one famous buried there, but every tree labeled -- chêne vert, olivier, amande, amaranthe, érable japonais.

The odd corners of Paris would take a lifetime to explore. I played tennis on Saturday with my "team," whcih I put into quotes because it's not like any other tennis team I've played on. You learn on Thursday that you'll be playing Saturday; people show up more or less around the appointed time; you all play singles, and then two people volunteer to play doubles. And I have no idea what, if anything, it all adds up to. Anyway, walking from the métro to the court, I passed another sports center that was fronted, between the courts and the sidewalk, by a teeny-tiny farm -- that is, by a handful of goats and chickens, with various little huts for them to occupy and straw for them to eat or sleep on. On tan-colored goat stuck his horned head out through the fence, hoping to be petted by, or nibble at, passersby. I wonder who cares for these animals, why they're there. But I don't know if I'll ever be back that way.

Fabio Fognini returning serve at Roland Garros, May 28, 2018.

Finally, this is my short season of solitude. I have had many of these in my life, and sometimes it feels as though I'm returning again to the same place, the same frame of time. I am back in Versailles, at 19, working at the pastry shop and coming home alone. I am back in Manhattan, at 27, in my floor-through apartment facing the din of Second Avenue. I am back in Los Angeles, at 21, in my nest above the garage behind the house in Santa Monica. I paint my toenails gold. I write aimlessly, in circles, not inspired exactly but as if caught in a dream. I play bad piano. Now, with the Internet, I watch clips of Stephen Colbert and John Oliver. Then I go out into the world, to get an ice cream cone or to go to work, and no one knows me, really. I may be a simulacrum of myself, or I may be the hard kernel of myself. I remember those other cities through the prism of that solitude, and I will probably remember Paris this way, too -- myself as a floating eyeball, a hidden part of the city. Alive, just for this moment, in this apartment, from which I hear a bird sing in the back courtyard.

Back to blog

Sign up to receive occasional email

I'll send you a copy of a new story I'm working on--and after that, one or two updates a year when I have news to share.

To prevent spam...
What month comes after July?