Keys and I have a misguided relationship. For obvious reasons, I am a fan of keeping my few precious possessions safe, locked behind closed doors and drawers lest another decides that they would be a more deserving owner. However, I am extremely absent minded. This leads to a lot of mismatched socks, lunches left on the kitchen counter and forgotten lab passes – nuisances for sure, but not crises.
Last Tuesday in a rush to get that *last* experiment done before leaving for my mini-vacation to the US, I crossed into crisis territory. That ‘something’s not quite right’ sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach transformed into nausea the moment I heard the heavy door shut behind me. Like a bad movie, I murmured, “no, no, no” under my breath as I crumpled into a seated, slightly fetal position on my hallway floor, rummaging madly through my purse to find the key that I knew was, without a doubt, still sitting on my dining room table.
A morning at work was still necessary. I had to finish up an experiment from the previous day that could not wait and, in the meantime, could use my work computer to (hopefully) track down a spare key or capable locksmith. For a moment, consider the photo of the key above. With all the laser cutting and indecipherable patterning you might think that I was protecting nuclear secrets in my 35 m2 (let me assure you, I am not). Normally, I am thrilled with the bunker-like sense of safety this lock-key pair lends, but after hearing horror stories of Parisian locksmith rates – upwards of several hundred Euro – to bust through such security measures, my appreciation was waning.
The morning was spent sending a flurry of emails, text messages and Facebook inquiries. No, the neighbor who kept my spare key safe was not back from his vacation abroad. Yes, a good friend who had experience with Parisian locksmiths could escape from the lab to offer moral support. Silence from the landlord.
Finally I left work, friend in tow, to face the consequences (and cost) of my mistake. Fortification for the task at hand was necessary and somehow the prospect of finding a locksmith of repute in my neighborhood seemed not so intimidating when discussed over triangles of gooey, fried cheese. In the last minute, somewhat dramatic fashion of the rest of the day, an email finally arrived from the landlord: She had a spare! We were saved! All we had to do was find out way to her apartment (on the other side of the 18th) recover her spare from the guardian, retrieve my spare and be on our way. Easy peasy. Plus, the added bonus of exploring a new neighborhood – clearly a much better way to spend the afternoon than with that 12-hour experiment, the distracted anxiety about which started this whole disaster.
Rather than rush over to pick up the spare and continuing the day at a hectic pace, we decided (as my vacation had started) to take our time and enjoy seeing something new. These are a few of the images from along the way – not the prettiest quartier in Paris, but certainly a lot of fun (and providing FFFFP comeback inspiration). The day ended well, with one of the most spectacular views of Paris I have ever seen – not to mention a happy reunion with my keys.
Our first few blocks took us through Pigalle, the red light district of Paris. In addition to endless sex shops and ‘saunas’, there are an abundance of cheap (in every sense of the word) clothing stores. These shoes seem to epitomize the fashion sense of that neighborhood.
Speaking of fashion, these bubble boots caught my eye and were so compelling that I ran down the street to make sure I could grab a photo. If incidents like this continue, the winter hiatus of FFFFP may be coming to an end sooner than expected.
Strangely, in between each sex shop is a tourist trap selling sparkly Eiffel Towers and aprons printed with the Metro map (or a topless French maid, ha). This shop, which specialized in creating videos of your family on a magic carpet (!) flying past French cultural landmarks, at least provided something unique (and crazy).
We saw multiple fried chicken places along our walk. This one, with the burned out windows above, was definitely the most sketchy (which, if anything like the Mexican restaurants in southern CA, means it is also the tastiest).
Some of my favorite places in Paris are the tucked away green spaces. This park was full of kids enjoying the last few minutes before sunset. The mural on the back was especially intriguing and deserved a closer look:
Sunset, although only peeked at in between buildings and down avenues, was beautiful and intense.
The evening ended by retrieving the spare key from a rooftop apartment. The 360-degree views were stunning and reminded me, despite the angst of the day, how lucky I am (again).