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Breathing the right air

Nothing brings more comfort than a bag of good things to cook, swinging under your arm as you make your way home. Somehow it blots out the rest of the world. In these moments, the entire universe consists of a late afternoon sun, a stray dog and a clump of flowers growing strange and wild in a yard. A hit of basil jumps from my elbows with each swing of the bag, a gift from one of the ladies I buy from the most. I visit markets without intention, just eyes open ready to discover fresh peas, or the first corn. Knowing that these products will disappear as quickly as they present themselves creates a certain form of excitement. Each season offers up this rhythm and without it I might become completely lost.

I think of when we were in Tuscany a month ago, feeling like such a tourist until I wandered out along the highway and found the local vegetable stand. I shoved squash blossoms and tiny tomatoes into a bag, rushing back to our room like I had robbed a bank. I made pasta with them th…

rocks, coins and angels

I had a blue-eyed angel in New York. I would pass him on the street at random moments every few months or more. His eyes blazing from behind his beard and a ski hat, he would smile at me. A quick smirk of recognition - - aha, you caught me. Yes, I’m here. I’m around. I know you’re completely lost, and I’m here as a sort of signpost to tell you - - you are right where you’re supposed to be.

I carry rocks and coins in my left pocket - reminders of various significant moments in my life. There was a $2 bill there for years. A little green piece of marble from Santorini. Migelli was a human version of these momentos. I kept losing him, and finding him.

In truth, he was the second assistant director on a feature film I worked on, right out of film school. I was the cinematographer for a former porn star turned-porn producer’s foray into legitimate (ok, more clothed) filmmaking. Candida Royalle (or Candice, once you got to know her) was half Sicilian, half Cherokee. Kind, generous, imaginative - -she gave me my first break and I made her futuristic, racy story of one woman’s triumph over sexual repression look like a lost Bergman film. (And, we shot it in 10 days.) Migelli was an invisible force - standing in as an extra, fixing flat tires, bringing fresh tiramisu to the set at 2AM. I have no idea how he got hired.

I would pass him on 36th street, close to 9th Avenue and a string of flat fix mechanics. I would see him at 4AM, cracking peanuts on the front steps of the Public Library. Once, I saw him crossing the Brooklyn Bridge. He did not seem to age. He always smiled. He always saw me first, but waited for me to notice him. I wonder how many times he saw me, and I was so wrapped up in my troubles that I did not.

I really thought Migelli crossed my path this morning, as I passed the Europevsky Shopping Center. It seemed impossible, but I have never failed to find such surprises in life. They seem to follow me.

I turned around, splashing through puddles to see if it was him.

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