Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Thirty Years Ago

I had planned to write this post over the weekend, or even last Wednesday or Thursday, but as usual time got away from me. It was then, just before the Olympics started, that I thought about where I was thirty years ago. No, it wasn't London—but close. We were in Paris, just finishing up the first grand vacation of our lives, as we took our annual leave after a year in Saudi Arabia.

Charles was 3yrs 5 months, and Sara was 1yr 2 months. We were in Europe 28 days, going from Rome to Florence to Lucern to Schaffhausen to Salzburg to Munich to Glottertal to Paris, almost all by Eurail. The things we saw were just amazing. Growing up, Paris had always been my dream city to visit, and I learned that Rome was Lynda's dream city. So we anchored our trip at the dream cities.

While there, we by chance were in Italy when the Italians won the World Cup semifinal. A few days later we were in Germany when the Italians beat the Germans in the finals. That was a study in how seriously those nations take their soccer. We came into Paris on a Saturday night, and the following day the Tour de France finished in Paris. We saw the cyclists go by in front of our hotel.

It all seems a dream to me now, almost unbelievable that we went through Europe with two small children, on our own, with no tour, on a loose itinerary with only one hotel reservation the whole time. We had hotels picked out and had sent ahead for reservations, but had only heard back from one before our trip began. One adventure during that trip was when I was separated from Lynda and the kids when a train pulled out unexpectedly.

Thirty years ago today we were in Rhode Island, celebrating my dad's 66th birthday. He would live another fifteen years and leave an outstanding legacy as a dad and granddad.

I hadn't really had a chance to figure out how to work those years into my writing. Conventional wisdom is that foreign settings don't sell well in the USA, so I haven't spent a lot of time thinking about most of those expatriate years, other than my planned novel China Tour, where I turn our 14 days in China in 1983 into an espionage story.

But the idea came to me that I could use those settings. I plan on using them in a series of short stories. I have a female lead character who will be a CIA operative, with a reputation for rogue tactics, who will be at those places. The first one is started, with other ones in the very early planning stage. I don't know if I'll succeed in this, or whether I'll really turn these into a series of short stories, or whether anyone will be interested. But it's good to have a plan.

And it's good to be able to have been on the grand tour, so many years ago, not knowing that someday I would be a writer and be able to use the experiences in stories.

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