The house itself is like a shell. Large, high ceilinged empty rooms opening into one another, the perimeter of a square, the house is three stories tall, has no basement, save a small wine cellar, and is composed of four sides, each two rooms wide with a hall between the rooms, that skirt a large red tiled courtyard. Along the perimeter of the courtyard and sifting off in one place on each side, is a sunken trough that I'm told works like a gutter system when it rains. To me this translates as, I will have a stream running through my house whenever a storm hits. There is a large marble fountain with a resting angel positioned in the middle. The water it supposed to fan out from her wings, lengthen them, instead it cascades down them, like pitiful marble waterfalls. The only furniture pieces in the house to date are 3 beds, all king size, one in each of three of the about ten bedrooms, a vanity and wardrobe in the master bedroom, overheard lights of some form in almost every room, an antique love seat, several more-than- antique overstuffed wingback arm chairs, 4 working bathrooms though outdated, and a working, though equally outdated large kitchen with a stove, refrigerator, and sink. I don't have a microwave, toaster, dishwasher, or coffee maker, but this is ok, as currently I also have no dishes, and no food. Plus I never really drank coffee in the first place, though I wouldn't mind a tea kettle and some mango chamomile tea right now.
Part of me wonders how I arrived here. I am twenty six years old. I have undergraduate and graduate degrees in photojournalism from Kent State and Columbia respectively. I own a beautifully furnished three bedroom apartment on museum mile. In New York City. I have a job at Vogue in the fashion department. I've worked there 10 months. I spent the first 8 of them traveling the world with models hardly younger than I am, to shoots in Barbados, Paris, and Russia. I spent my work hours photographing the young waifs lying on park benches and battle waves in the newest fashions. As a socialite, shopaholic, exteenage model, it was my dream job. All the designers sent over free clothes to Vogue's journalists. I had my hair highlighted every few months at Elizabeth Arden's Red Door Salon, gratis, since I was a Vogue girl, and I drove a Lexus, in the rare case I actually drove. I had actually managed to stay friends with three of my high school companions, my best friend Milla, her sister Summerlyn and Skylar, my highschool crush turned actual relationship.
And then I was summoned into Vogues editor-in-chief, Caroline Vaughner's office one afternoon two months ago. Caroline had been the one to hire me just 8 months before, and I respected her greatly. She was always kind, if not a bit too enthused about my work, and so I wasn't worried at all. "This is a very big trust we're putting in you Lillian, you should be very happy." She bubbled after she gave me the news. It seemed Vogue was trying to beat the stereotype I so loved it for, that it was only concerned with physical beauty of humans. It seemed Caroline wanted to show Vogue could appreciate the beauty of the world as well. Whish was where I got involved. One journalist or editor from each department was being sent out into the world with a camera, a lap top and a task. To write a book. There was the beauty editor, Betsy, being sent to Colorado to write about becoming a professional snowboarder and the beauty of the mountains, Clara, the "real- life" department head journalist was being sent to Canada to follow some rising star fledgling band in their quest to become famous. And then there was me, a novice photojournalist, in the fashion department, I was being sent to Switzerland, to live and photograph life on Lake Lugano, for a year. Maybe longer, maybe 18 months.
"We didn't even consider anyone else Lillian! You're perfect for the job!" Caroline gushed, as always, putting too much trust in me. "You're about our readers age and you grew up just like them." That mush I couldn't deny. I was still in the generation of Vogues readers, and I had grown up like a majority of them. Born in a distant suburb of Cleveland Ohio to a prominent family, given whatever I liked for my whole life, I had been a theater girl, and actor, not actress, we don't say actress anymore, and I had been lucky enough to be involved in a theater where all the other kids were just like me, due to our influential parents, more than 90% of them currently lived in NYC along side of me, I was one of the only ones who didn't pursue theater as my career. I had grown up in the sheltered world which I still lived in to some extent, much like all the readers of Vogue. I supposed I could relate. "You can always turn it down though." Caroline said suddenly, softly, "If you don't think you're ready, I can send someone else, no problems, but Lillian, I think you're the only one perfect for this job." How could I say no to that? To the idea of spending an entire year in Switzerland doing nothing but taking pictures and writing, my favorite things in the world, outside of shopping?
When I asked what I was to write about, Caroline essential shrugged me off.
"Oh, whatever you like I suppose." She told me smiling, "Make it a journal, write about the architecture, the religion, the daily life, write about your life here in America, or your life there, it won't matter. Take lots of pictures and write like you write everything and the reader will flock to it."
And then there was the pay. Vogue bought the house and it is deeded to the company, they flew me out here, and I will receive an allowance every month to live here that is as much as they were paying me per year to do my old job at Vogue, practically. So I agreed and spent the next two months readying myself for something I could never be truly prepared for, to move out of the USA, on my own and live in a place I'd never been too (outside of a brief visit to Bern Switzerland about 6 years ago) And write a book on I didn't even know what.