No Exit

It’s been a while. Let’s seen, where was I? Oh yeah: Malaga, Seville, Faro, Lisbon, Sintra, Nîmes, Aix-en-Provence… Things have happened, both good and bad, but nothing to write home about, as it were.

But more importantly, where am I now? Stuck. Stuck at home. Literally. There was an incident with a door lock. Never mess with French door locks, they’ll mess with you.

The French have home security down pat. Our door is a porte blindée, a super high-security contraption in which deadbolts are integrated into the whole shebang, with multiple bolts on each side. Think bank vault. Mark’s teacher was wondering why Americans don’t have doors like that, he reasoned it was because we prefer to buy guns and deal with any intruders in that way. He might be right. Blame the movies. Doors aren’t sexy.

But when French locks go bad, they go bad, badly. We got locked inside our apartment. Twice. The second time was with our friend Xavier and the locksmith. It was a tense 15 minutes of wondering whether we’d need to call the firemen to break down our door. I told Xavier we were stuck in a Sartre play. He said which one? I said all of them? But specifically, No Exit. But while Mark and Xavier were plotting to climb over to our neighbor’s balcony, and I was plotting where our 2 unexpected visitors might sleep, the locksmith broke the lock and tripped the mechanism. We were saved! Except there’s no longer any working lock, thus no way to enter with a key. Someone has to stay inside at all times. We have to tag-team going out until the new lock arrives, and of course it’s an older model and the company is out of business. At least there’s still a door!

Even if we weren’t stuck in the apartment, we are stuck in Montpellier. We have had, and are in for, a line up of strikes. Planning to go anywhere right now is a dicey proposition because you won’t know if your train will be running. Thankfully, I have nowhere to be other than here, therefore I can afford to be philosophical about it. I recognize that not everyone has that luxury. It’s my somewhat naive opinion that strikes are a decent part of the reason why I want to live in France. Not that I enjoy the disruption, but I appreciate that life here is good because the French are not afraid to vehemently protest. They’re not going to take any erosion of their rights lying down. French workers are some of the most productive in the world, but work is not synonymous with life for them. I love living with people who have healthcare and vacation time, for whom lunch is sacred. I know there’s far more nuance to the situation, but this blah-blah blog is not the place.

While we’re waiting for these situations to resolve themselves and free us up again, I figure the only reasonable solution is to have parties! We had a particularly raucous, spur of the moment coffee chez nous, reminding me of many, many such events we had back in the US.

So I’m stuck. But I’m stuck right where I want to be. And that’s a beautiful thing.




  1. Love your philosophical attitude. I feel the same. We’re lucky enough to live here. I still think you could write a column, somewhere, somehow. I’d read it.


  2. Thanks for catching us up. When we hear about anything going on in France I always wonder how it affects you. Glad you’re doing well. If you need someone to stay in your home and watch the door I’m available if you can convince my wife.


  3. And most remembered line from that play?  “Hell is other people.”  Oh, Jean-Paul! Wishing you lock luck. Sent from Yahoo Mail on Android


  4. I always remember the sayin “The only stability is accepting uncertainty”. It was in the first Wired magazine. You have a great approach to life! Thanks for the blog., we travel with you. Ed


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