I’ve realized that in many ways, I’ve met my people in France. During the second month we lived here, all of this random junk started appearing on the sidewalks outside of people’s houses. It suddenly reminded me of being back in good old Vermont. We weren’t quite sure what the random junk was all about, until our neighbor told us that once every three months the city comes by with a massive trash truck to take anything that you want to get rid of. That’s when I started to notice things in the piles of junk that might actually be useful to me, but I wasn’t sure the politics of junk swiping in France – should I take that push broom, or would that seem very unsophisticated? It’s just going in the trash anyway, right?
For days, I was waiting anxiously to see some French person swipe some junk, but each day the push broom just stared back at me on my walks to and from school. It wasn’t until I saw a full set of enormous antique French windows (hardware and all) sitting on the sidewalk, that I finally broke down. Unable to carry these things home by myself (and without a car that day), I called Tim at work and made a plea for him to stop by the sidewalk and pick them up. What would I use them for, you might be wondering? I’m sure I could think of something. That’s the best part of junk – you don’t know you need it until you’ve got it.
Sadly, when Tim arrived a couple of hours later, the windows were gone. C’est la vie! However, that night, all of the pent up French junk swiping behavior finally let loose. It was like a street party, with people driving around and picking through everyone else’s junk and taking some of it home. It was great.
Another reason, I know I’ve met my people here is that each summer weekend (and ususally multiple times per weekend), there are these village-wide yard sales called “vide greniers,” which translated, means empty attic. Some of them are not worth the time, but every once in a while, you can hit upon one that makes the wait worth it.
A few weeks ago, I went to one in a very small village called Recloses just outside of Fontainebleau. When I arrived it was like a junk wonderland – there was stuff that hadn’t seen the light of day in decades. Yee haw!
After I wandered for a while buying up all the uniquely French things I could find (wine racks from a cave, anyone?), I stumbled upon a small table at the edge of the vide grenier. Among many other interesting French things, sat this nice little Air France valise that I didn’t immediately notice. I was focused on the antique sugar and flour containers in the front. As I was getting ready to buy my latest sugar/flour combo set, the woman at the table held up the Air France suitcase for me. She told me that I should buy it.
She went on to say that her mother was a flight attendant with Air France and she carried this small suitcase on every flight for all the years she flew the friendly skies. In addition to my love of junk, I’m also a sucker for nostalgia, so not only did I buy her story, I also bought the suitcase. Keep in mind, the valise is only big enough for lingerie, but if you’ve ever seen any any of the historical memorabilia from Air France, you know they only hired super models anyway. Also, as far as I have seen in France, there is also the sentiment that there’s no in-flight crisis that a cute bra & undies set can’t fix.
Was that woman’s mother really a flight attendant? Don’t know, and frankly, don’t care. I love the little suitcase anyway.
When I brought it home, Eamon told me that it would be perfect for taking a trip to a very small country – he suggested Scotland.
Must go sweep the patio now – and yes, I got the push broom.