Tag Archives: serendipity

What to Do When You Meet a Mirage : Karla mi Lugo

I met a mirage today. Amber face full of hope and longing, flaming red hair in coils and curls of frantic grace, slender fingers and puckered lips: Karla mi Lugo.

music, street music, portland, portland writer, portland musicianAt first, because I was busy and because I have grown impatient, I avoided her eyes. Don’t talk to me, I thought, because you are beautiful and probably crazy, and I don’t have time to get sidetracked and sucked into yet another personal labyrinth. Also, don’t ask for money because I don’t have any. At all.

portland writer, beverage writer, portland music, street musicianHer music is reflective; a wash of accordion and clear, piercing whistling, and a husky voice like an autumn evening. As I sat, carefully ignoring her, her music sidled into my consciousness with a purity that finally had my attention. I put down my work. I engaged.

beauty, accordion, pretty dressWe talked. 5 years ago I also made my living performing in the streets and hoping equally for engagement and clinking coins from passersby. I am relieved to have left that urgency, but then again: I never handled it with such grace and aplomb as Karla does. Since I cannot offer money, I pull out my camera and lovingly explore the silken planes of her face in the afternoon sun, the crisp stripes of her apron, the delicate arabesques on her instrument.

musician, beautifulKarla will be, in her words, “going on [my] musical pilgrimage to Paris” next month, and, I believe I overheard, competing in an international whistling contest. I wish her the best of luck and glorious chance meetings, and I look forward to her return to our gritty streets.

When you meet a mirage, you’d best drop your work and listen.

music, beauty, portland music

beauty, well met, portland street musicafternoon/ Alberta St. Arts District / karla mi lugo






Tongues Tangle in Arcata


Too often I’m focused internally when traveling, instead of externally. When a portly woman with waist-length silver and black hair crowned with paste jewels crosses my path, I’m focused on my aching feet. Or when I drive past a drum circle swaying in the lawn, I’m feeling my sun-dazzled headache.

Which is why it was a small miracle that as we drove through central Arcata today, we… stopped! I pulled my camera out and snapped while each brilliant sidewalk square dazzled me. Turns out, we’d happened upon one of the largest art events in Northern Cali, a yearly fundraiser called Pastels on the Plaza. The air thrummed with energy. A tanned itinerant with a djembe argued with a policeman. Children skipped past or drew their own designs with sidewalk chalk, pale against the intense pigment of the pastels.

Serendipity was kind to us today.

Arcata, CA / early afternoon / Pastels on the Plaza