It was with great luck that a mere two months after our tour ended, I found myself back exactly where I had left off – in France. We had flown over for a magic convention and foolishly hadn’t built in an extra day for sightseeing because of our packed work schedule. But it seems that mes amis, the French, are always looking out for me! The Air France strike that was on led to a canceled return flights, and left us “stranded” in the south of France for a day! “Quelle chance,” as I like to say. So, we decided to head to the charming town of Aix-en-Provence with no agenda but to speak French, wander and of course – eat.
Moments after we arrived we stumbled upon a market while looking for a lunch spot and decided to just buy everything we wanted there and have a pique-nique! As we sat in the sunshine near one of Aix’s famous fountains, feasting on our provisions from the marche and exchanging sentiments of “OH MON DIEU” after every bite we tasted, I thought about how natural it felt to be back in Europe; parle-ing en francais with the locals, spending all my euros on roast chickens and unpasteurized cheese. For one of the first times, rather than having that “we’re on holiday” feeling I felt like “I’m home.”
The last time I wrote we were a mere week away from the end of our European lecture tour. After leaving Carcassonne we headed on to Spain: Barcelona, Sevilla, and finally wrapped everything up on the rock of Gibraltar, a strange, little island just below that is owned and operated by the British.
The mix of Spain & England is certainly an unusual one, and it made for a place that combined two things that never occur together naturally: sunshine and English accents. It also made for odd menus in restaurants attempting to combine the two cuisines with awful things like blood pudding croquettes. By the time we got to “Gib” as the locals call it, I had more or less checked out. I think it was partial exhaustion, partial being totally fried from spending the past three days in the 110 degree sun of Seville, and partial just ready for the work to be done.
As Josh and I got off the train for the last time, we just stood on the platform for a moment, surrounded by our mound of now-battered suitcases and hands raised in jubilation. “NO MORE TRAINS,” we yelled as we danced around until we were reprimanded by one of the Spanish train employees for making too much noise.
The lecture in “Gib,” the last lecture, was a memorable one.
Josh, who usually changed into a sharp blazer and sleek loafers, lectured in his tank top and sandals. Our typically crowd of 30 or so enthusiastic magicians was down to 5 – none of whom spoke English, and instead of attentively watching the final lecture, as I had promised Josh I would do, I fell asleep in the back of the room after devouring a pack of dark chocolate digestive biscuits. It was clear that for both of us, this tour was so over.
Our tour ended that day, July 6th. 52 lectures, 20 weeks, 14,000 miles in America, and 12 countries in Europe. Thinking back on it now it really all does seem like there’s no possible way we did it and lived to tell the tale. When the tour was over, we parted ways for a while, each taking a week to go visit friends. For me that meant 8am – 8pm sunbathing sessions with my best friends from college in Juan Les Pins. For Josh, that meant 4pm – 4am magic “jamming sessions” with the most famous close-up magician in the world in Cadiz, Spain. You tell me who got the better end of that deal.
We met back up in Venice a week later and boarded the Celebrity Equinox for seven days of forced fun on the Mediterranean. We are not your typical cruise candidates, but after months of travel, different hotels every night, missing daily meals, and not being able to communicate with people in our native tounge – nothing sounded better than surrendering everything over to the overly enthusiastic, English-speaking employees of Celebrity whose mission it was to make sure we were relaxed, well fed, and entertained.
We instantly found ourselves at home on the ship. We were the first ones at the pool every morning snagging the prime, plush, padded sun beds and barely moving all afternoon. We were the first ones off at the ports and explored some incredible places for the first time together – Dubrovnik, Santorini, Ephesus, Olympia! We gambled in the casino, and of course we lost everything we gambled. Josh ate 7-9 meals a day. We ordered almost every option of every course off the menu each night; a weeks worth of desserts in one sitting. We even participated in some of the activities – like poolside mixology 101, and sunset trivia on the E-Deck. The cruise director caught us dreamily staring into each others eyes one night, and demanded to know what we were celebrating – so it seemed as good a time as any to pretend like we had just gotten engaged! Something we’d been doing all summer to see how many perks we could amount. This announcement was then, of course, joyously proclaimed to the entire Sky Club in between the 60’s standards. Despite all the silly evening masquerades, and cheesy photo backdrops, and people trying to get us to participate in things like “Battle of the Sexes Relay Race,” we had an obnoxiously good time.
Our last few hours abroad were spent in Istanbul, and I was surprised to find myself so melancholy. I’d been fantasizing for the last few weeks about being home; about hanging my clothes up in a closet and conversing on the regular in English. I was so ready to resume having a working cel phone, using the washing machine, and knowing my way around without looking at a crumbled map. And yet I boarded the plane to JFK with a little teary-eyed.
“How do we go back to normal life,” I asked Josh as taxied the runway? I LOVE this life. And this tour… it was the most fun I’ve ever had! I don’t want it to be over! We won’t be able to spend our days wandering around cute, European towns trying the pastries anymore, or spend our nights surrounded by the world’s most bizarre and wonderful collections of people. No more midnight gelato cones and beautiful scenery and ancient ruins, and bike rides through vineyards! Our average day will be so boring!”
But if there’s one thing I’ve learned in the last few months, it’s that an average day with a magician is anything but boring.
My old average day was my morning latte before my morning meeting, and then slowly going blind while staring at floor plans and computer screens. It was filled with waiting for checks from clients and dropping off samples and rushing to the gym after work to make the 6:30 class so I could have a chance at being home before 8 in order to put together some type of dinner before passing out from exhaustion.
But on an average day now, you’ll often find my running around the streets of New York, typically Lululemon clad with my “I left my heart in SF” tote slung over my right shoulder. I’m often on the hunt for things “the boss,” as I like to call Josh, needs for a trick he’s developing. Things that I’d know where to get if I could go to Diagon Alley, but require a lot more creativity to track down in the real world.
I may be in the garment district checking out mannequins and dress forms, trying to find the right one to best display the Houdini straightjacket Josh just won at auction, or talking on the phone to a Vanishing Inc customer about the various sizes available for sponge carrots. I could be laying out Josh’s latest book idea, or sitting at the table surrounded my glitter and stickers and photos crafting pages for the thick scrapbook I’ve made of the tour, or styling Josh for the video shoot happening that day. Or we may be having an inspiration day, walking around the Met and stopping for a caramel apple cupcake and card game in the American Wing. But often I’m just in our little magical apartment, being the spectator for The Boss as he rehearses in his boxers.
And while that’s no world tour – it’s still pretty exciting.