Two hands framing a small box of possessions
On Life,  Publications

From Paris to Nowhere

How losing my home and downsizing my belongings turned me into a nomad — a case for owning less.

For 18 years, I lived with my (now) husband in a charming old artist atelier in Paris. But in the winter of 2019, we were expelled.

It was a shock and great disappointment, until we learned to see this change as an opportunity.

As we uncluttered our soon-to-be-lost home, Daniel and I went back and forth about where we should live. Finding another place in Paris was out of the question. Rent protection had kept the city affordable for us and moving into a new house meant paying twice as much. […] It didn’t make sense for us to return to the U.S. or the Netherlands. We both liked keeping a distance between what had shaped us and who we had become. I wrote more freely when I was the stranger, the observer. By not fitting in, I felt at ease.  

We considered moving to Italy, where we got married on a vineyard. To Portugal, where tax and immigration laws were hospitable. To the Greek islands, where life—when the forests weren’t burning—was simply good. But we couldn’t settle on an affordable place where we would enjoy all seasons. Perhaps we hadn’t seen enough of the world to know where we wanted to root.  

That’s when an idea came to me. Why not postpone our decision and look around? Leave our stuff behind? Live nowhere and travel the world?

An excerpt from From Paris to Nowhere

Please read my full essay “From Paris to Nowhere” on what happened next on The Smart Set.