So I’m back to the velvet underground
Back to the floor that I love
To a room with some lace and paper flowers
Back to the gypsy that I was
These lyrics send a shiver straight down my spine every time I hear them, and I listen to them a lot. Recently, I’ve been reaching for Fleetwood Mac on my morning runs. Many of their up-tempo songs set a good rhythm for running, and the lyrics are just substantive enough that they spin me into the kind of introspection that makes quick work of four miles. The pavement is a confetti of fall leaves, and the arch of Dumbarton Tunnel on the Crescent Trail forms an inviting doorway to adventure, and somehow Stevie Nicks reminding me to “go my own way” just works.
But those gypsy lyrics in particular enthrall me.
Are their places that make you feel like a past version of yourself? A core version of yourself?
When Stevie sings about “the velvet underground,” she is referring to a tiny vintage store in San Francisco where Janis Joplin and other rock greats bought a lot of their clothing, and “the floor that I love” references a room she rented where she slept with her mattress on the floor and tacked lace curtains up over the windows. She is resurrecting a time in her life pre-Fleetwood-Mac-success, marked by thrift and aspiration and wandering.
Returning to my hometown last year has invited similar encounters. Cornerstone memories linger at specific intersections, restaurants, stretches of Connecticut Avenue. I walk into Rock Creek Park and am shuttled into memories of excursions there with my Montessori classroom. I remember cicadas, the felled tree we climbed over and around, picking what I thought was chives but was probably grass with a little boy named Daniel Powers. Little velcro sneakers stumbling over roots, tiny pigtails emerging from the hollows of a tree stump: doorways, too, to adventure. Occasionally carpooling to Montessori with the girls who lived on the street behind us — “Goils,” their dad called us, glancing back. He always made me sit in a booster seat though I never sat in one in my parents’ car, and I was too shy to protest. My mother’s burgundy Cadillac had a center seat between the driver and passenger side, and I sat there smugly free of the booster, in private insurrection. Always, on the back of remembering my mother’s car, I think of that season where our driveway was overrun by gypsy moth caterpillars, their quilted, majestic backs inching across the asphalt in regal, bobbing motion. They would hang off the branches with startling prehensility. We gathered them in shoeboxes. I was a sponge, prehensile in my own way, collecting. It only takes a run through the orange and red trees by Peirce Mill (SIC) at fall time to remember everything.
What is it about these trips to my past that feel so meaningful to me? I think, maybe, the sensation of fullness. The way that an entire universe lives inside me. Perhaps what Nicks was after: going back to the before, reconnecting with a time that was formative or pure. In interviews about “Gypsy,” she says, “there’s a part of that that era that will never be again,” and elsewhere adds: “That’s one part of me…that’s where my songs come from. ‘Going back to the velvet underground/back to the floor that I love,’ because I always put my bed on the floor. ‘To a room with some lace and paper flowers/ back to the gypsy that I was.’ And that’s San Francisco. That’s the Velvet Underground. Those are the things that I can’t give up…The clothes I wear, that doesn’t change. I love long dresses. I love velvet. I love high boots. I never change. I love the same eye make-up. I’m not a fad person. I still have everything I had then.”
I still have everything I had then. Perhaps she intended it literally, but what a gorgeous sentiment: that we don’t lose things to time, but collect them quietly inside.
+On running without music. (A challenge and adventure for me.)
+Speaking of festive dressing — zomg. Damaris Bailey just launched the most gorgeous velvet and silk faille peplum top that skyrocketing to the top of my winter lust list.
+LOVE the shape/style of this $60 bag.
+Already ordered this set for my son’s Christmas pile! The first gift I’ve bought!
+There are some closeout deals at Shopbop worth a glance —
+I own a pair of VB Crosby trousers and they are SO flattering — a great, high waist, and make even short legs like mine look super long. Run TTS. Love them in the denim and in this corduroy (<<they are ON SALE)!
+Still time to get into the Halloween spirit! These inexpensive popper bracelets would be a cute surprise to send in with your child to school / to a party, or could be a non-sweet alternative to giving out candy.
+Into this knit dress — Missoni-esque.