Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Nothing Doing, Part Deux

(If the title doesn’t clue you in, here’s the sad truth: when you write everyday and post, sometimes nothing much happens. If you are looking for adventure, go back and read Walking The Line for a greater thrill. In this post, I don't make any embarrassing mistakes, nobody nearly dies, and precious little no food is served.)

Tomorrow is Mercredi Libre, and we’ve already told the kids that we’re going to waste it trying to find the Carrefour in Draguinan. We need streamers and birthday party stuff for the little family party we have planned for Abigail. Based on the schedule we’ve developed, there is no way to drive there and get back in time to pick up the girls from school. We don’t yet have a babysitter (in fact haven’t hired one except for one night in August since the middle of June.) We’ll waste the second part of the day by throwing ourselves into a tizzy over the purchase of a second (and second-hand) car. We’ll have visitors soon, and we’ll need another vehicle to carry and ferry and sometimes split up to go in more than one direction at a time.

This little shopping expedition should be great blog fodder, if our most recent car-buying experience back in Brooklyn is any sign. That poor salesman at Bay Ridge Toyota was nearly in tears once we were done with him and drove the shiny silver RAV4 out of the lot. And he spoke English. I am quite sure I will be the one weeping tomorrow, and perhaps not for effect to try to get a lower price on the car. Bill has promised me that I can finally get my dream car – which really just means something German or Swedish in relatively decent shape. Even a VW would do. Such cars are off limits in my regular life, where It Has Been Decreed that only one brand and make of car sits in the Venn Diagram pulling together our budget, getting decent gas mileage and fitting Bill’s XXXL torso.

Schooldays have settled into a routine here, but we really only have two more of them left. Drive the one car to Aups while one grownup cleans up from Breakfast. Back for two hours, then the other grownup goes to Aups to pick them up while the remaining one makes lunch. We gobble down the lunch, hang out for half an hour while Bill reads The Hobbit aloud. One more trip back to school, we usually take a little run together, then a final pick up, with tiny little chocolate bars. Bill arduously translates the homework while I make dinner, and then a walk or a dance party and some more hobbit reading. Then writing, and sleep. The rain the last two days has complicated the writing and posting, since there is only a two-food radius in which I can keep the computer dry and get internet access at the same time.

We spent our three weeks in the Tower, and are nearing the end of two in the Cottage. This little two bedroom apartment in an old garage (“carriage house” is the preferred term I suppose) is our tiniest home of the year, even smaller than the sweet little place we rented in New Hampshire this summer. It has sloping walls and teeny windows. Once the feral kitten got in and banged frantically against the glass door until we scared it outside. For these reasons, Bill has recognized that it’s the Hobbit Hole itself, which felt particularly true when it started raining last night and it felt so cozy inside and British blustery out.

We rented it because neither of the other houses we found were available these two weeks. I liked it more when we moved in, back when it was cleaner, and also seemed slightly more welcoming in its adorable smallitude. There is nowhere to put the girls’ toys and books, so they are stacked in boxes in their rooms. We have a tiny fridge that is happy only when we keep only two days worth of food inside, and keep out anything particularly strong smelling. There are only showers, each with a parsimonious amount of tepid water, and no bathtub – and you know how I like my baths.

It’s sort of like camping, to have lots of dirt (OK, figs) being tracked inside all the time, to have so little stuff around, and to have it all packed into tiny places so I can’t really even find it or use it. It’s beautiful here, but I’m quite ready to move to a place with a great kitchen and internet access indoors, and to stop the driving back and forth every school day. I’m ready for the promised dream car, and a bathtub, and to expand in both time and space. I’m ready to become a town character, that sweet but not very intelligent American girl who always mixes up her tenses and smiles at everybody all day long.

I imagine walking to the boulangerie, where the girl will learn my name, but still be unable to pronounce it properly. I imagine the store that sells poisson (crucially different from POISON) actually being open when I am there. I imagine a future of four bars of internet all the time, and sitting endlessly on the terrace of the café with a book. I foresee being able to buy good vegetables at the place I like to go, but that never has a parking space in front. I’m sure I’ll get brave and invite over some non-English speaking acquaintances, even if they are only ten and are children in Gracie’s class. I imagine becoming more familiar to the people of the town, and getting more little nods and “Bonjours” with each passing day. No more Figfoot, no more little black millipedes everywhere, no more Hobbit Hole.

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