One of These Students


Is not like the other.

I spilled the I smoked crack beans and was homeless in class today.

Apparently nobody else has done either.

Or at least no one else was owning up to it.

The girl sitting next to me, woman I should say, asked me something about what I do and how long I am in Paris and what brought me here.  I told her I am a writer and that I am working on my first book, completing it truly.

She was confused, you are not writing about Paris?

No, I am using Paris as the well to replenish myself with when I need to get images.  Funny that, filling up my idea well with Paris when I am actively writing and engaging in the craziness that was the early 90s post-Hurricane Andrew Southern Florida, with a dash of crack and a side of homeless.

“What are you writing?”  She asked.

She, by the way is a professional actress and comedienne.  Who?  I have no idea.  But she is in Paris performing and filming and I do not recognize her at all, although I get the distinct feel that she is quite well-known in her country of origin.

I almost want to Google her.

I probably will not, I can barely pronounce her name, let alone spell it.

Besides, if I am going to be doing any Google’ing, it is to look for publication opportunities and agency and the like.  Which, I continue to remind myself, is putting the cart before the horse.

There is no need to look for agency until the book is a complete piece.

It is not complete yet.

However, it is fleshing out nicely.  Despite my embarrassment, self-imposed at the childishness of the writing.  It is young, it is not dynamic and it falls flat often.  The story is good.  The writing not as much, which is why I am editing, and I am writing into the story, deepening it, polishing it, cleaning it, and I get over the, I cannot believe I wrote this drivel when I actually get into the meat of what is happening and am able to show it, the story, instead of describe it.

“You are writing a memoir?”  She asked, after prompting me more to tell her about the book.

“You are too young to have memoir.”

I smiled and told her that it was only about the four months I was homeless smoking crack running around with an older man when I was 19.

I smiled.

Her face.

“You have stories to tell! You should write!”  Then she smiled, I nodded, yes, I need to write.  That is what I do.

Sidebar, my computer has been making the scariest noises recently, I am not excited by them.  Please do not die my friend.  Please.

I told her a few things, not like there was much time to discuss my crazy, but she asked another question, “two years” was my response.

Two years.

I was homeless for two years.

I slept in cars, I slept in tents, I slept in weird pop up campers in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.  I slept on plywood.  I slept in abandoned houses.  I slept under the trees and on beaches.

Today I sleep on a fold out futon in the living room of my friends three month-let in Paris.

It is not really my bed of choice, but it is not bad, eh, when combined with the recall of where I have been previously.

I had these thoughts flash about my head in a swirl of fallen leaves as I was walking through the Jardin du Luxembourg.  I had thought that I was to be on Rue Madame at 5 p.m. this evening and as it turns out I was to be at Quai D’Orsay and the American Church at 8p.m.


However, I had gone by the gardens last week, not realizing how close I was to them and, since I did not have to be where I thought I was supposed to be, I went for a walk in the gardens.

It was divinity.

That same sense of terrifying happiness engulfed me as I was walking, as when I was at the Pompidou and saw the Kandinsky.  The brilliant blue sky was overlay with the dusky light that seeps between the buildings at twilight and tinged with grey curling smoke.

There were huge drift piles of leaves pushed together along the dirt paths.

Children running about with ruddy cheeks.

I am walking in the park in Paris.

I am looking at the trees and smelling the good smell of wood smoke and crunching through the leaves.  I am having autumn.  I had taken the edge off my hunger with an apple I had in my satchel and the sweet rose taste of it was still about my lips.

I sighed, smiled, looked at the sky, let everything bleed out of me and into the swirl of cirrus clouds above.

It matters not where I go.  I am here now.  Stunningly simple, this quiet reflection, I have this time, this gift.  I get to be here writing.

I thought about the list of jobs and things and what I had and have.

I have a bicycle.

I could sell it.

I love it.

But it is just a thing.

I have a tax return probably coming.

Then, I thought, let it all go.  Just be quiet in the twilight.

The quiet only lasted another brief moment as I trod toward the wide circle of fountain sketched with a few small scurrying boats and the scudding clouds above reflect back into it.

I was about to take a picture of an urn overfull with flowers, when the whistling began.










The urns were situated all about the circle of fountain.

I wanted to walk around it, circumnavigate it, see it from all sides, but the gardens were closing and the whistles, although not unharmonious, were insistent.

The sound of whistles came from all corners and gathered us up in an apron of leaves and shook all the park revelers out the front gates, which black plated and tipped with gold spikes, were to be closed prompt as prompt could be, at sunset.

Some thing of the civility of that, the closing of a park, at dusk touched that deep well, a ripple of thoughts dropped there.

I once lived around a man made pool of water deep in the treacherous heart of Dade County, Miami Florida, and perhaps lived is a too neat a term, survived to tell the tale, perhaps more like it.

Today I lived, present and peaceful, serene and full and I walked soft dirt paths by another man made fountain, but this heralded by the skies and the whistles and the laughter of children plunging in and out of leaf piles as they were herded out of the park.

A deep breath.

Bliss, wood smoke, autumn leaves, the sky fading toward the mottled purples of evening, and a walk under the bare tree branches, spartan and brave, I tucked my hands into my pockets, and shouldered my camera back into my bag and wished the gendarme “bonne soiree.”

A good night indeed.

Sunset in the Park

Sunset in the Park

Branches and Sky

Branches and Sky






Tree Branches

Tree Branches





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