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Not me, her

In 1987, I found myself trying to write about a high school girlfriend that had been molested by her father when she was a child. I was 19 years old, struggling to find my way through a screenwriting assignment about delivering character. The idea was to describe messy young love between two Sid and Nancy want-to-be's. But that failed, as I could not stomach oversimplifying her complicated past, events that shaped her life as a 16 year old with a mohawk, a smart mouth, a lingering stare. I understood that I had to start at the very beginning.

No one wanted to hear the story. When it was my turn to read in class, it even came to be that some of the other students asked to stand in the hallway before they heard another description of what happened in that lonely little house in the middle of nowhere. I was trying, and failing, and trying again to get things right, to explain how this happened, how it could happen to this girl, how this man found his way to acts of selfishness and d…

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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