*warning - this is a little verbose but worth the read.
My husband and I are coming up on our 25th wedding anniversary this month. On our first anniversary, we decided to travel to Europe, more specifically to France. We spent a good bit of our time in the South of France and, like all who travel there, fell under the spell. Of course, because we were a young couple and just starting out, we were traveling on the cheap. We were on a beautiful road near St. Remy and I was noticing the trees lining the road. The trunks looked like giant hands cupping the leaves and off I went into my typical daydreamy state when I turned to the right and gasped. There was a long pathway lined in small flames with giant trees, and at the end of the road was a beautiful old chateau. It flashed by at probably 30 miles an hour and I said to my husband, "The next time we come back to France we are staying there". And that was that.
Fast forward sixteen years. We were trying to decide how to celebrate my son's thirteenth birthday and decided to bring him to the place we fell in love with all those years ago, France. Off we went, spending a fabulous time in Paris and then down again to the south. One evening, without a reservation, we drove to Avignon hoping to find a room for the night. When we got there it was nothing like we remembered. Now, very crowded with tourists and not a room available, we passed and drove on. It was getting to be around dinner time and my husband and I thought we might have better luck in St. Remy. Well, the town had now been discovered and after stopping at four or five hotels with no vacancies we were starting to worry. Our back up plan was to drive to Cannes if all else failed. Surely we would find a room there.
My husband was determined and kept on his (what he likes to call) creative wandering path. He just followed his nose, his intuition, and it started to feel like the car was driving us.
All of sudden there before us was this sight:
I literally lost my breath and my heart started leaping. It was that beautiful vision we sped by sixteen years prior. This time without the tiny flames lining the driveway but just as lovely.
Well, to our disappointment, there were no rooms available but we decided to stay and have dinner. That was good enough for us. All throughout our dinner, a hummingbird was fluttering right next to us. It was a beautiful magical night.
The proprietor came by to chat with the guests. My husband, who speaks fluent French, explained how we had been by years ago. When she asked where we were staying, he told her that we planned poorly and did not have a room for the night. He said we would be driving to Cannes after dinner. She smiled and then said that a friend of hers who was supposed to arrive that evening could not make it and that we were welcome to have that room. "Are you kidding me?", I said silently in my head. I was besides myself. And there it is, we spent the night in a dream within a dream.
There are so many lessons in this story: follow your nose, don't map everything out, let go of control, etc. etc. - take from it what you will, but for me... well, it is at the top of the list of my favorite life stories and I am delighted to share it with you. I am also looking forward to the next twenty five years of creative wandering with my husband.