It was one of those nights.
The Russian had taken the little girls to see their brother's hockey game, and I was left with my seventeen year old finishing up the Chicago-style pizza I'd made for dinner. As an expat in it for the long haul, you learn to make all kinds of comfort food yourself, including creating the perfect imitation of Giordano's pizza.
We sat and picked at our olives, laughing over our Tuscan wine and staring out at the lights across the street.
"Let's go driving," she said. I shook my head and whined: It's cold outside. And dark. And there's nothing - and I mean nothing - open in town!
"We can see if anyone is throwing anything good away....you like that!" You learn in this place to make your own fun.
We pulled on our huge parkas, stuffed ourselves into the tiny Polo with no power steering, and went looking for trouble. None was to be found in Perrefitte (population 464). None on the west side of our town, either. But as we gathered speed to ascend the hill to the east side, we spied quite the local event. Fireman practice! Not bad at all for a Monday night!
We pulled the car around and sat watching. After a full ten minutes of standing by the ladder and doing what we can only assume was deliberating over which way to properly carry the equipment, we were forced to give up our faith in the local emergency system. Basically, if you've got a fire in your house in this town, it's going to be awhile before they get there.
I flipped on Bruce Springsteen as we drove home, letting my mind wander back to long drives down California's highway 101. In the little Polo with no power steering, with no tape deck and no CD player, we YouTube our tunes; and in that little rolling haven one thing came very clear: if you got a dollar in your pocket in this small town, it ain't goin' nowhere, rest assured.