The crazy grown-up digs

The tale can now be told. Who knew it would take this long? The story, in its entirety: Late March was when our unhinged downstairs neighbor (not to be confused with the party-boy next door) in Paris ramped up his ravings and we decided to move, for real this time. In Antibes in April we muttered and obsessed and generally made ourselves mad with the what-nexts, weighing practicality vs impulse. Full nomad or base? What kind of base? Where? How? Huh? We finally said enough already and called a wise friend to have someone break up our circular thinking. Paula didn’t have to say a word other than a few well-placed questions; in spelling out what we really wanted in a big-picture way, aloud to a third party, we realized that having a base and having that base be Montpellier was the right choice.

We hung up the phone and I immediately texted X, a friend who is such a Montpellier booster he might as well work for the tourist office. I said, you win. We’re coming back. He texted right back saying, do you need an apartment? Call me. Whaaat? I called. He and his wife had just put in an offer on an apartment as a way to invest a recent inheritance. X said, you probably won’t be interested, it’s 1300 sq ft. and unfurnished. (The polar opposite of our dorm-room Paris apartment.) He sent the location and a video. It was ideal. We said yes.

Nope, not our place, but our place does overlook it. This is the 12th century Tour de la Babotte, former defensive tower turned 18th century observatory, and my favorite Montpellier site.

And that is how we acquired an apartment a half hour after deciding where to go. This makes 3 for 3 dropped-into-our-laps leased apartments in France. I hear it’s difficult getting an apartment the conventional route. I wouldn’t know ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

The only slight wrench in the works, besides how long it would ultimately take X&S to close on their apartment, was furniture. Stuff. And things. Lots and lots of trappings. Mark and I knew it would one day come to this. We couldn’t keep living in furnished rentals forever. Home and especially home paraphernalia would one day catch up with us again.

So yeah, furnishings. Sigh. Not only do I find possessions burdensome, I’ve become unmoored from taste. Which is not to say I don’t like nice things, despite what my sister says. However, for the last 5 years, I’ve striven to accept and not impose. Ugly lamps were just par for the course, their tackiness the price you paid for the freedom of not being responsible for them. But now we would have to amass a vast number of things, starting with a blank canvas. What would we let into our lives? There’s no thrill in striving, acquiring, or collecting for me at this point, only pressure. Of all the things in the world, you’re going to choose this? You’re going to take care of that? Not to mention that perfection and taste are vast and moving targets. We would need to practice looking at things with an eye to acquiring them, rather than saying that’s a cool thing and moving on. I told Mark that at this point, it’s not about the toaster, it’s about the toast. It’s not the lamp but the light.

But our lucky streak was not over. We didn’t lay eyes on the apartment until August, when we got to do a quick tour to take measurements. The owners were there, 2 sisters selling the apartment after the death of their mother. They started by asking us would you mind if we left the kitchen table? It fits the space so well. We said sure, then they said how about the dining room furniture? The sofa? We told them we were starting from scratch and that anything they wanted to leave would be welcome. Big sighs of relief all around. Their to-do list and ours got immediately cut in half by this fortuitous meeting. Our unfurnished apartment turned into a mostly furnished one. There are things to be obtained and decisions to be made, but we can take our time and figure it out.

There’s a risk that we will gather moss and closets full of crap. Swapping Paris prices for Montpellier’s means we can have a nicer apartment and still travel quite a bit, but we’re about to find out how much of our let’s get out of dodge feelings came from living in 220 sq ft vs our innate wanderlust. Just promise me that if I start blogging about my bitching new lamps, you’ll slap me, ok?




  1. Wow! Congratulations! This was meant to be! Looking forward to seeing pictures of your new space. Wishing you many more happy explorations in the near future.


  2. This sounds like it will be amazing for you guys. I love that you are living your best life. God speed my friends.


  3. sounds awesome. is there room for Mark’s guitar? Did they leave one behind? love that fortress. every town needs one. Especially nowadays. wonder where your next trip takes you.


  4. It sounds like your good fortune is, like always, in the friends that you make! Thank you, friend X. I include myself in that select group, by the way.
    And, talking about lamps isn’t necessarily mean boring. Did you know that we have two antique Chinese vessels, one bronze and one celadon, we converted to lamps without boring? I’ll wait for you to ask me to tell you the technical aspects so I won’t bore you!
    Enjoy your newest phase of your journey. XO


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