The Tao of Bort

After more than four years, we finally got around to finding the Limoges Emmaus the other day. Emmaus is like the big Salvation Army or Goodwill and there’s one for every city. Unlike in America or the UK, where every town has dozens of thrift shops or charity shops, people in France must hang onto their old crap (because the new crap costs so much?). The Emmaus sells disused furniture, bikes, bathtubs etc. We ain’t buying anything these days, except if it helps “staging” to easier sell the house.

The Emmaus was disappointing, though we got a nice old planter for 10 euros. But it was way out in the country, and we took a wrong turn trying to get back on the autoroute. I was glad we did, because we saw this weird place, like a guardhouse, sitting out in the middle of nowhere. “Bort”, the sign read. A pleasant place, disconnected from everything but the occasional curious passerby and any contact with the outside world generated by the inhabitants within.


I can’t get “Bort” out of my mind. It’s sort of like “Limbo”, where unbaptized babies went. Cushier than purgatory. We’re not out of here, but we’re not over there yet. Maybe we’re in Bort.

It’s an oddly relaxing place to be for a little while. Whereas before I might have taken any negative or disappointing event (the mean lady in the cafe, the lousy couscous dinner in a local restaurant, the “Le Gibson” bar we went along to looking for a gig because we heard the owner loved music and had a collection of Gibsons turning out to be a tiled billiard room with a wall erected across what had once been a stage, because “music oh la la, that’s too much stress and all those charges, non merci, not for us” , the overpriced market full of sunburned English people, the boulangeries putting baguettes in bags printed with ads for new fireplaces and housing developments) to heart, in my current state it’s all a big laugh.

spring plants

Those broiled English are now potential clients for the house (hallooo, you wouldn’t by any chance be looking for a lovely house in the French countryside would you? we may start to grab people by the arm and drag them along against their will to take a look) The couscous night was fun, because it meant not having to cook and we won’t have to do it again. The cafe lady is miserable to everybody! If it weren’t for the stress and uncertainty, I’d say that living like you’re about to move isn’t a bad way to go – we’ve got a clean, decluttered house with a nice kitchen, trees and garden moderately tamed, flowers in planters. The CDs are organized now, so every time I get in the car I grab something to listen to. I’m making a little money selling old clothes I haven’t worn in years. I even painted the rusty cafe table and chairs for outside, something I’ve wanted to do for ages but couldn’t find the time to make it a priority.

yellow table

We eat croissants and chocolate and pastries to keep our morale up, I drink wine when I want to, we take walks for our esprit. In other words, we’re being kind to ourselves during this transitional time. While still trying to get work done.

“It’s a shame,” a French friend said. “You speak French a lot better now, just when you’re getting ready to leave!” Because the pressure’s off, it’s just for the fun of it now. I don’t have to integrate or fit in.

I don’t know how long this calm will last.

14 thoughts on “The Tao of Bort

  1. Erica M

    What an evocative post. Poor unbaptized babies who never got to wear that frilly white gown and satin booties. But Bort looks like a perfectly lovely alternative.

  2. Lianne

    Oh .. I was going to tell you what Pierre said. I thought it was pretty funny that you found yourself fascinated with that word. — Lianne

  3. Amy

    Maybe because it feels unusual for a French word, Lianne – I love that it means "away". And the house has an exotic look (for these parts) – maybe there's some Swedish backstory here?Do you remember a few years back Carine, when the Pope closed Limbo – saying it didn't really exist? I'm still recovering from that.I had no idea I knew so many people who spoke Swedish, Pierre! There is so much to know out there – thanks for picking up on that.Thanks for your comment Ms. Psychobabble – I'm still trying to figure out if the place is connected to a chateau or something. There seems to be such an order to these things in France, maybe that's part of the kick about this place, how it exists in a void!Where did they all go Erica, when the Pope threw the whole idea into question? Back in Catholic school, it was one of the most evocative concepts…possibly because it seemed the most unfair and arbitrary. Now purgatory – that made sense.That's a wonderful thought Fly – I'm thrilled to hear it!

  4. Motormouth

    When my kids are pestering the life out of me today, I'm going to reply, "Mommy's bort." I think you have a terrific attitude and I wish I could buy your French-countryside house. I bought the best Christmas presents ever at the Pavillion de Limoges.

  5. Amy

    thanks Motormouth. The "t" would be silent in French, but for my purposes it's not!It's a good try Ed – that one's in the Correze so not far off. Near Saint Priest Taurion – I've found some picture postcards and mentions of a grand chateau Bort but unable to find anything more concrete.

  6. Voix

    The best thing about a transition for me is that the expectations I usually have of and for myself are shut down. Can't find the paperwork? Meh, it's in a box somewhere. I'll find it after the move. Don't want to cook? Of course I don't, where are the spices, anyway? Time for a treat! Lovely post. Thank you.

  7. Amy

    I was so pleased to read your comment Michelle – I stalked your blog all of last year when you were getting ready for your show, and enjoyed your writing very much. I hope everything's going well for you, I will have to check in and see what you're up to!

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