Do you believe in fate or is life filled with choices where coincidences happen?
Last summer, my daughter, Courtney, studied in Barcelona, Spain. My husband, Danny, and I planned to pick her up in July and travel around France and England on our way back to the States. This trip depended on how quickly I healed after my double boobectomy. Our three week vacation would start five weeks after the first surgery.
I had some priorities. Since the book I wrote takes place in the Côte d’Azur, I wanted to re-explore the area. In my paranormal thriller, the protagonist has to solve the dark mystery surrounding her brother-in-law, Nico, and his estate. I’ve never known anyone named Nico, but the name seemed to fit.
The view from the cacti gardens in Eze.
From the South of France, we planned to drive to Paris. It was ten hours away from Antibes. If we stopped halfway, we could explore another city. We studied a map and found Lyon. It was our Omaha, Nebraska when road tripping from Boulder to Wisconsin. Okay. It’s not, but it is a halfway point. We would stay there July 17th and 18th.
An outdoor patio scene in Lyon.
A thought popped into my head. (I know. It happens on rare occasions.) Months before, my daughter introduced me to an electronic folk combo called, CocoRosie. I hummed Lemonade for weeks after watching the YouTube video, fifty times. They’re from the US, but are very popular in France. I raced to my computer and looked up their schedule.
“No freakin’ way!” I said while staring at my computer screen at the kitchen counter. “You won’t believe this,” I shouted.
“What?” asked Danny from his office.
“CocoRosie is playing at an outdoor amphitheater called The Grand Roman Theater on July 17th!”
This was the beginning of a lot of crazy coincidences.
Except for some residual cording, (a shortening of the lymphatic tissue creating a taught string from armpit to my wrist), my surgery was a success. I needed to stretch my arms out while in bed every morning to get rid of the pterodactyl condition. No biggie.
The crowds are waiting for the “Magic Fountain” to begin its colorful display in Barcelona.
We flew to Barcelona. After sightseeing for two days, from morning until the wee hours of the next morning, we drove to France.
Gaudi’s Parc Guell.
We met a family who owned the restaurant across the lane from our flat. When we mentioned driving to Paris, they asked if we were going to watch the finish of the Tour de France on the 21st.
“What?” Danny and Courtney looked at me and laughed. “Do we have to buy tickets?” I asked.
“No. You can walk to the route.”
Courtney is serenaded in Antibes.
After touring Eze, Vence, St. Paul de Vence, and Antibes, we drove to Lyon.
The fountain at Place de Jacobins in Lyon.
Sinead O’Connor was the back up band for CocoRosie. What an amazing concert! We met a nice young couple from Lyon. Among other topics, we chatted about how most of the younger French people spoke English.
We drove to Paris, dropped off the car, and taxied to our flat. We had dinner at an outdoor cafe and then explored the heart of Paris. While walking to the Seine, I detected the unmistakable sound of bass. It was an outdoor, DJ’d, electronic music concert in front of the Hotel de Ville. What a scene! We caught the last half hour of it.
Rocking out, Parisian style.
On our last day in Paris, we sauntered through the Tuileries Gardens, explored the Musee d’Orsay. and took a short walk to the Tour de France.
On the other side of the clock inside the Musee d’Orsay.
We waited for an hour along the road. Cars and trucks, decorated like their products, paraded by. I was surprised there weren’t more people watching. We stood right in front of the barricade. I would get a clear shot of the bikers.
I had bought a Sony DSLR before the trip and had been experimenting with different settings. Sometimes it worked beautifully and other times it stalled out when taking action photos. I was nervous.
Finally, the racers appeared. I fritzed out and panicked. My camera froze. I checked the photos. I captured one before they raced by and one after. My heart clenched. I missed every biker in the Tour de France! My cell phone would have been more dependable. Danny and Courtney’s phones took great photos. I changed the setting on my camera.
We had been in a section where they biked by once. They would lap the end of the course eight times. Maybe I could get a picture there.
We joined a huge crowd on a corner, a block away. It was twenty deep with people. It didn’t help that I am so short. Everyone towered over me. There was no way I’d get a picture. I was so bummed, but had my camera out anyway.
A man beside me said something in French. When I responded in English, “Hi! How are ya?” he asked if I wanted to take a picture.
“I’d love to!” My heart rose out of my gut.
He shouted to the people in front of us in French and used his hands to part the crowd. The spectators turned around and pushed me forward. I made it to the front! I prayed, my camera would work. The racers approached and as they zipped by, I took a sequence of photos. I held my breath. I checked and my camera captured over twenty photographs. Yay! Even though they would lap a few more times, I thanked the nice man and the people around me and returned to Danny and Courtney.
“How cool are the French?” I wondered if that would happen here in the US.
After a few days of exploring Paris on foot and on bike, we took the train to London.
We checked into our flat and walked to the Kensington garden entrance. A few reporters and on-location crews stood waiting. I asked what was going on.
Will, Kate, and George’s pad in Kensington Gardens.
“William and Kate are bringing the baby home from the hospital any minute. There are a few ways back to the palace and we are betting on this entrance.”
We chatted with a lovely old lady who had only glimpsed the royal family on a few occasions. We waited for our glimpse. After an hour, (I know!), we gave up and entered the gardens.
Across from the young couple’s estate stood a row of white tents. They represented television stations from all over the world.
I approached a man standing next to an unmanned video camera. “Have Kate, Wills, and baby George arrived yet?”
He held a finger to his mouth to shush me. In a whisper he said, “My camera is a live feed to thousands of television stations around the world. They arrived about twenty minutes ago.”
My cheeks burned. I didn’t get to capture the newest member of the Royal Family, but the world got a shot of me. Embarrassed much or what?
London buzzed with all the baby news. It was exciting to be there at that time.
The next morning, I woke up and turned onto my side to start my exercises. I put my hands together and swung my left arm to to the left, and thwapped the built-in bookcase. It woke up Danny. “Sorry!” It stung, but I didn’t give it any thought until a few hours later. While walking with a throng of tourists, I pulled out my camera and noticed my hand. It resembled a bloated fish. I must have broken a small bone. Danny and Courtney freaked out. “I think it’s okay.” I reached out and up to check my range of motion and laughed. “The impact either tore the tendon or shocked it out of its seizure.” I never had a problem with cording again and kept my full range of motion. Thank God for that bookcase. I just have a little lump between my knuckles on my left hand.
Fast forward to this summer. My daughter was waiting to hear from two marketing firms in Denver. She met a guy at a party in Boulder who needed a roommate and wanted to move to Denver, immediately. She moved in with him the following weekend and got her dream job a few weeks later. By the way, his name is Nico. He’s from Lyon, France. Whoa!
Do you believe in fate?