We said a goodbye to Martel this week. After so many goodbyes there, this one was surprisingly poignant as we handed over keys to that life. Point Finale.
We have left behind many homes, moved onto others, re-scripted our lives down the street or over oceans, but there was a profound difference on this shift.
We bundled up our stuff, taped a few too many boxes, and said goodbye to pieces of wood and plaster more painful to leave behind than some of the friends. Certainly it was a culmination, it wasn’t really the stone sink in the powder-room, or the tile frieze in the bathroom, nor the massive beams or the stone niches, it was simply the last straw. Saying goodbye to this home was saying goodbye to those friends, saying goodbye to that town, the town which raised our only child into adolescence. These were the streets he learned to ride a bike on, here is where he learned to throw a snowball and had his first kiss. This is the town that taught me how to speak french and to cook a bourginon, and this is the life I joined 8 years ago, this is where I fell in love with a second country. This is where Oscar doubled his age and left many marks on many doorjambs.
Patricia and I supported each other as we kissed that home over to the next family, and turned our back like we’d just buried a good friend. This “serial dwelling” has a price, and it just demanded payment.
It would be sad if we weren’t doing this adventure as a team, and if the next spin wasn’t already proving to be such a rich one. Pass go, collect your deposit, splash some water on your face.
I felt the beat of my mind go
Drifting into time passages
|A long way down|
So we did our nomadic thing and rented a truck....I like to think that I remember each move, but never well enough to avoid the next one. This move to Bordeaux was an interesting one by nature of the altitude; 4th floor without an elevator We rented a “monte charge” (lift load) which for a pile of euros, does the heavy lifting. Its really just a large ladder with a mechanized sled that carried all of our Frenchly possessions UP and the accumulated piles of renovation debris DOWN. This took an impossible task and made it simply difficult. It was a solid days work for us with our team of local friends. 3 tons of debris came down and then to the dump. 15 cubic yards! But now I have a clear project site and I can restart with something of a clean canvas.
The years run too short and the days too fast
|Theres the team, plus Patricia with the camera|
It is hard to imagine that we are in our ninth year here in France, after tricking ourselves into a 5 year adventure, it just keeps getting better. The years have flown by like the cartoon calendar in the wind. There have been slow and lonely minutes, but the challenges of doing life in a new place has always kept it interesting. When the pictures on our computer start to scroll through its randomized library, it seems like the fast years become a wonderfully pixilated slow motion parade of incredible days with incredible friends, I’m sure those will continue.
Hear the echoes and feel...
The new project is advancing now, there are days where I spin in circles wondering what to do next; wire a few outlets, plaster a wall, repair a window, sweep-up...repeat. The catharsis of getting rid of the 100 boxes of debris on the wall was great, but now I need to wrap up the small tasks and get back on the critical path. I will bought some antique doors today and I can soon order the plaster blocks to start building the remaining walls around them. Then the new ceilings can be built and the radiant heat installed, then the Venetian plaster, the stone refinishing, the floors, the bath and kitchen..... It’s just a puzzle of distraction.
It's just a game that you play
|Old Bordelaise doors|
I had a great experience today buying those doors above, I stumbled upon this small salvage yard, neat piles of stone and arched windows and spiral iron stairs that would have pleased Gustav himself! Greeted by Erik, a ferronier (blacksmith), then introduced to the purveyor of the salvage bits, Eric, and his son who I think was Daniel, but they could have been talking about me. They each had their own shipping container in different corners of the yard, each with a different personality. Anyhow, Eric had these doors and they will work splendidly once refinished and reglazed. When I came back later to pick them up and strap them onto the roof of our red Mazda, they were all eating lunch among the trees in the back of the lot and I was given a glass of wine and a piece of pipe to sit on while they wrapped up this daily ritual (cheese, baguette, pouches of tobacco, red wine and coffee), and I was part of it and somehow I felt IN my element. There was also a Natalie there who was someone’s fiancee, but I’m unclear if that person was present. She was a glass cutter/artist who is going to teach me how to cut circles for those windows. We shared our stories, complaints about french politics and support for Occupy Wall Street, which has given the french a shadow of encouragement for there allies across the pond. It just seemed so random and easy! All in service to this latest renovation.
It will become a great apartment and I think we will really enjoy living there. We have gotten used to such grandeur in Martel and here in our year of living tangentially (renting), the change will be nice, and I’m building closets everywhere, and trying to think through the details and not miss opportunities for something better. It takes a conscious effort to step back and rethink an idea, but when I do, or someone else does for me, it invariably gets better.
Well the picture is changing
|This is the view of our new neighborhood|
and the music's loud