Audrey Lopes is a florist based in Cabrils. She was born in the US and has been living in Barcelona for more than 40 years – the past 30 of them in Maresme.
The experts say that florists are the happiest profession. And she agrees! She believes that all the important things have been gifted to me on the silver platter of destiny. Here’s her love story(ies)…
(1982 – Boston, Massachusetts)
American/ Spanish soprano Maria Coronada was singing Enrique Granados’ “Goyescas” at the Boston Concert Opera. Just hours before returning to Spain, she and her husband agree to meet with a young American soprano eager to go to Spain to study the Spanish classical repertoire. The young singer was me, and that brief encounter in a hotel lobby in Boston changed my entire life. Carmen Bustamante, one of the greatest and most beloved lyric sopranos in Spain, agreed to take me as her student. So my arrival in Barcelona that same year sparked this first love story: I instantly loved Carmen. She graciously “adopted” me and I am privileged to be among her most veteran students. We all adore and revere this generous, warm-hearted woman who is still one of Catalunya’s most respected artists and devoted teachers. Coincidence? No, destiny.
(1986 – Barcelona)
Like every other young American or British expat in town in the 1980’s, I made a living teaching English. One of the companies where I gave classes was a management consulting firm founded by Carmen’s late husband Eugeni. Among the students was a dashingly handsome, charming young man named Josep who had always been drawn to the US for some reason. We have now been married for 35 years and have lived, worked and raised a daughter plus 2 golden retrievers in 4 different countries on three continents. Coincidence? No, destiny.
(2011 – Barcelona Back in the 1990s)
Just when my career as a lyric soprano was taking off, I had my daughter, and realized that late night rehearsals and motherhood don’t mix. So I kept to teaching, translating and interpreting, and then transitioned to a decade in the relocations and property sector. In addition to choral singing, gardening and interior design were always my “hobbies”, until…. one day in 2011 I found myself enrolled at the Escola d’Art Floral de Catalunya. Wait a minute – how did that happen? Both my parents had passed away a couple of years before, but clearly they, my grandparents and their predecessors all colluded to put me there.
I’m part of the fifth generation of Portuguese immigrants to have settled in Rhode Island and Massachusetts. My ancestors were from São Miguel, also known as the Ilha Verde in the Azores, that gorgeously green archipelago in the Atlantic Ocean. Although transplanted to New England, my relatives all had lush gardens at home, and one of my grandfathers was a landscaper.
My most vivid memories of the rare summers we could spend time with my grandparents are of grape vines, gladiolas, blueberry bushes, hydrangeas and peonies. It was a watershed moment, as they say. Turns out that floral design is what I was meant to do in this world. I continued my professional training at the New York Botanical Garden, and am now what is called a veteran (read “experienced/older”) designer.
That cliché about finding something you love to do and you will never work a day in your life – it’s still true for us baby boomers. When I’m working with flowers and the other beauty that nature gives us, I’m in the flow. When I walk into the Mercat de Les Flors and breathe in that first whiff of fresh cut Maresme marvelousness, I’m blissfully at home in my personal happy place. I’m blessed and so grateful to my Portuguese family who have passed on for planting me there. Better late than never! Coincidence? No, destiny.
(March, 1993 – Alella)
Five years into our marriage, Josep and I made the great escape from the city and bought a small house at the very top of an urbanización in Alella that is 275 meters above sea level. It snowed that week, and we had no power for a few days. A few weeks later, we noticed a lot of pine needles and twigs kept accumulating in our mailbox. We eventually put a sign on it alerting the mailman to please put our mail elsewhere, because there was a family of three newly hatched baby birds nesting inside.
We had been trying to conceive for all 5 of those years in the city, but it wasn’t until that first spring in the Maresme that I finally got pregnant, and our daughter was born on Christmas Eve that year. The best Christmas gift of our lives! Magical, Mediterranean Maresme. We instantly felt at home here, and that feeling has never changed. We moved away for work assignments, but always came back.
We’ve lived in four different villages so far. When our daughter, now married and living in the US, comes home, the first thing she wants to do is get her feet into the Mediterranean. It’s in her genes! Coincidence? No, destiny!