Josephine, the fleeting moment
I met Josephine when I was in New Orleans some years back. She was selling flowers along the avenue and I bought a Gerber Daisy just because I thought she was cute.
“This a decent gig?” I asked.
“Flowers? I dunno. I just started the flower business today. They fell off the back of a truck, if you know what I mean.”
For some reason I’ve always loved women who can’t help but steal things.
“A girl’s gotta pay the rent,” I said.
“Yeah, and it beats the shit out of waiting tables. Besides, I’ve either quit or been fired by too many places around here to get a decent job.”
“Sounds all too familiar,” I said. “Can I get you a drink?”
“Hell yes,” she said, and I wandered off to the corner store for a half a case of Dixie. One thing I’ve always loved about New Orleans is there are no open container laws. Few things make me feel so free as drinking with impunity in public.
It didn’t take long before Josephine abandoned the idea of sitting on the curb beneath the hot sun all day to sell flowers. One thing led to another and we were throwing the petals all over the ground and rolling in them, behaving like lunatics. Then, she threw the remainder of flowers atop the mangled ones we’d destroyed, saying,
“There. Someone’s gotta put flowers on a flower’s grave.”
“Isn’t that a Tom Waits s—“
She kissed me before I could finish. As soon as I let my guard down and melted into her, she poured a beer down my shirt. I chased her down and tackled her and sprayed her with the rest of my beer. We giggled like blissed out little kids as we played out our beer fight in a grove of Cyprus trees. As the sun went down we reveled in the fact that we were both young, broke and—at least in a shared moment together—beautiful. We spent the rest of the evening in bars and taking long walks around the levy. We told each other stories of our pasts, made up some lies; shared the secrets of our souls. Then, we played kick the can with a gaggle of children up way past their bedtime.
I never saw her again after that night. For whatever reason, we didn’t exchange numbers and I soon caught a bus headed west.
I remember Josephine that day, tipsy with flowers in her hair, and I get this feeling that I call ‘the happy sads.’ It’s like, this is life: when it’s really happening, it’s also ending. Yeah, when I think of Josephine, I think of a flower.
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