Now that Ian is two, we're beginning to really feel the need for a little more space. It's a buyer's market, but when you've got such a wonderful place to come home to, nothing seems like an improvement. We calculated many scenarios. We dropped our weekend plans to check out neighborhoods and argue the ins and outs of every detail in a series of imagined housing situations. We got into spats about toilets in bathrooms and toilets outside of bathrooms. We drove across vast expanses covering every single road, zigzagging for hours through neighborhoods near and far. We frustrated many real estate agents. In the midst of all of this, I was taking my winter morning walks up Lyon's various long ancient urban stairwells. Looking over the city, I was silently saying my goodbyes while I watched the sun rise over fog softened rooftop silhouettes. Staying in the choice neighborhoods would have to entail a stroke of luck.
The lock tumbles, the wood creaks and settles under your feet, the light plays just so. We have allowed ourselves to be pulled into the fold of this family heirloom-like bijou of an apartment, magically placed on a square nestled into the curve of the Saone, river on one side, hill on the other, every day for the last eight years. At first, the 14 foot high ceilings, glistening polished marble fireplaces, the beautiful carved panels and 19th century woodwork didn't seem possible. The soft light, branches of the trees swaying in the breeze, birds singing on the square, too luxurious to be true but somehow happening. We painted the walls grey and kept the wood and marble buffed and polished.
Looking for an apartment has been a very invigorating project. The stories I could tell you! Once we had seen everything on the market in the neighborhoods we wanted, it became a mad scramble to get in and see everything the day it was put up for sale. All the best apartments usually got offers the first day they were on the market. One day, between appointments to look, I stopped into a real estate office with the idea of asking a few questions about possibly finding a combination shop front and living space, just an idea for my teaching kitchen. A charming man named M. Bernard, an expert in his field, received me in his office and listened to my dream. His eyes lit up immediately. He had a place in mind. It is an old boulangerie, smack in the middle of the perfect neighborhood. It needs more than a little work, more than a renovation. It needs a complete strip down to the bones and a rebuild. Before he saw it, Loic thought I had gone off the deep end. I told him, in preparation for our first visit together, that this world was created by people who were brave enough to imagine possibilities and make them happen. I reminded him of projects I have handled in the past. With this in mind, we examined the old boulangerie, we held hands, and we dared to fall in love with what was underneath.
You know, I have been giving my classes for awhile now. This was initially a series of talks for Dartmouth College students here on exchange in Lyon. When I got started at Emile Henry, the clientele changed but the material remained as dense as it was in the beginning. The context of Lyon as a city and the love of cooking from the market basket help people to remember and learn better, feel like they’re taking home something more than a recipe. I have garnered much encouragement and support from my students, while I give them encouragement to go ahead and build on their repertoire.
Just the other day, the owners accepted our offer on the boulangerie. We’re going for it. I am going to build my teaching kitchen.
One day you go from "wouldn't that be nice" to "now is the perfect time" And when that happens, if you've been taking yourself seriously and really asking this question in earnest, your dream, the one you have explored over and over again in your mind for years, so much so that it seems like already a done deal in your mind, might actually fit into your life plans.
Labels: Plum Lyon