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no invitation

We are at a 3 year old's birthday party in the back room of a cafe. Music is pumping from a tiny speaker. Balloon animals are popping, and waving in the air. A man in a yellow dinosaur costume dances wildly. Parents snap pictures with satisfied smiles on their faces.

A little girl approaches gingerly and stands in the doorway, straying from her parents somewhere inside the restaurant. She cannot be more than three. It must be hard to ignore all of the noise coming from this room packed with celebration. There is a perfect little pony tail at the back of her head. She hesitates, as one foot poises in the air and then rests back down. How to understand that she was not invited. How to understand the laughter, the loose jumping bodies, the presents piled high on the window. None of this connects to her. There is a little plate of food waiting for her back there, in the quiet restaurant. Maybe a warm bowl of soup, thick with noodles. I watch her for some time.

That night, her empty e…

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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