Famished. Exhausted. The end of the road. Well, the end of California’s road. We had just crossed the border into Oregon, and following a day straight out of hell, landed in a little town called Brookings, and specifically Zola’s Pizzeria. Hobbling out of the van, we dragged our weary bodies into this little local joint and were immediately overtaken by the positive vibes of Bob Marley, and the comforting aroma of woodfired pizza. A happy place.
“We’d like the BBQ Chicken Pesto please,” we ordered.
“Actually, we have a BBQ Chicken Pesto that we cannot find a home for. Here, it’s a large, but we’ll charge you for a medium.”
Things were looking up.
ONE DAY EARLIER. KING’S RANGE NATIONAL CONSERVATION AREA (THE LOST COAST)
“Em, EMILY!!” The angst in Corey’s voice pierced my soul. Immediately, I jumped out of the van, pushing aside the beginnings of a van dinner. Corey was standing there, his arm scratched up, dirty and holding his shoulder.
“I.. crashed my bike. I b-br-broke my clavicle,” he managed to stammer from somewhere deep in the trenches of pain.
Shit. In the moment that followed, my world spun out of control. Confusion, fear, helplessness. See, we had just arrived at the primitive campground deep in the King’s Range Preserve on the Northern Coast of California. 25 miles removed from civilization on a brake-burning country road. Four miles down an intimidating dirt road. No cell phone service. No idea where the closest hospital was. We had arrived at the Lost Coast. As quickly as the world (okay, my mind) starting spinning, it came back into the clearest of focus.
Breathe. First, I checked Corey. His breathing and his head seemed okay. But where was the hospital? To drive, or get an ambulance? Sprinting to the neighboring campsite, I asked the campers if they knew where the hospital was. “No, but you can use our phone.”
Exhale, they had phone service. Thank. God. . 9-1-1.
As I was throwing Corey’s broken bike into the van it dawned on me. This was going to be the first time I had driven the van in all of her fully packed, 5,000 pound glory. On the steepest of roads, in the dark, with Corey severely broken.
What followed that evening is now an illusive blur of a nice emergency response team from Shelter Cove and the most challenging drive of my life. White knuckled. Switch backs. Burning brake pads. Endless roads leading to an endless ER visit, and the most unpleasant of doctors. Tired eyes finally shutting in a hotel room provided by the hospital. Corey had definitely broken his clavicle, but checked out okay otherwise. The next day was to be a long one, as we would begin our drive northwards towards Portland, OR.
BACK IN BROOKINGS, OREGON, at ZOLA’S PIZZERIA
We gratefully took the homeless pizza, happy we didn’t have to wait. Corey scouted two picnic table seats, next to a nice-looking, middle-aged couple.
“What happened to your arm?” The observant nice man inquired.
“I broke my clavicle yesterday,” and the story spilled out, the nice couple intently listening.
“Wow,” the woman started, “this is what you need to know…” and proceeded to tell us a plethora of healthcare and insurance information from where to go, how to get the best help, and how to pay using a federally funded system. Tips from an obvious insider… a health care lobbyist.
I was smiling… Of course out of all of the people we could have sat next to, Corey chose the health care professionals (he was in the industry too). This could be called luck. Many call it coincidence. In Sedona, AZ, they call it synchronicity, believing it to be mini-signs from the Universe, or God, or ourselves, or whomever or whatever you subscribe to.
The man and woman, wrapping up their meal, gave us the remaining pieces of their BBQ Chicken and Pesto Pizza. I commented, “This is the best pizza. We got lucky, they had an extra one.”
The couple exchanged a look, grins spreading wide, “That’s funny. We had ordered our pizza an hour ago but it never came. We re-ordered and the owner apologetically gave us free beers. You got our pizza.”
In hindsight, the signs of a fall, a break, were all there. The day of the accident, Corey and I had a serious conversation about Corey slowing down. When we arrived at the campground Corey, tripped and fell to the ground, TWICE minutes before getting on his bike. Corey never falls, I had thought.
Synchronicity. The following days were filled with it. From talking to the health care couple, to meeting a VW Vanagon guy who gave us Oregon camping tips, to one of our Instagram friends randomly hearing about our incident and offering us a place to store Boscha, to a yellow fluffy tiger kitten sitting outside of our hotel room (Corey loves cats especially yellow tiger ones), to Corey’s random run-in with a friend in the middle of a crowded market in Portland, where they were each buying identical tank tops.
Simply put, I believe these little coincidental events can be signs that you are on the path you were made to be on. Since I also believe that you are exactly where you are meant to be at any given moment, this would imply that coincidences happen constantly. It’s up to us to keep our eyes, minds and hearts open. To be still and present, like the Redwoods we experienced on our drive north to Portland. If a situation is uncomfortable, listen closely for a message, a lesson. But don’t listen with your mind. You can’t listen with just your mind. Do it with your whole body.
Sorry Corey, but sometimes, lessons come disguised as broken bones.