Jenische (Gypsies)…

They were camped less than a mile outside Cooke Barracks in the empty field on the way to town for months.  The young children would wave at me as I passed by.  I would walk because, 1. I was in tip top physical shape and, 2. I did not have a license to drive in Germany.  Everyone on Base noticed them – the gypsies – camped like something out of a movie. Dark haired, dark complexioned – a beautiful and intriguing people… One weekend, the children waved as usual but the teen-aged girls called me over to have me show them how to put on makeup.  I showed them how to apply eyeliner, mascara, blush, lipstick… losing my stash of course to their giddy “May I haves.”  I asked them if they were gypsies, “No, we are German” they answered.  Adamantly, Wir sind Deutsch.  We are German.”  The next time I walked to town, they were gone…

I think about them sometimes – German, not Armenian, not gypsies – and the freedom I felt standing there in their camp.  I think about their claim to a land, a heritage not expected by outsiders or even by insiders with standardized tests.  They did not look the part but the field settled softly beneath their trailers disguised as carts disguised as trailers.  And the trees hung over them shielding their skin from the penetrating sun as if ordained as covering since the beginning of time.  And when they were gone, the trees sagged and could be heard moaning for the children.

Gypsies; part of the world but not confined by the world, always ready and willing to move anywhere to find home – never losing the authenticity of self.  Owning their space and place in time, they drew you into their story…made you look…made you want to know…

Sometimes, I feel like a gypsy (submitting work authentic to me and clearly not on the same-dar as what is being selected).  Sometimes I consider “what if I changed”…but never do because it’s the me way down on the inside that’s got so much to say and there is somebody somewhere who needs exactly what I write, how I write it, because the feeling of freedom when I write is worth the waiting period needed for that gypsy spark to ignite.  It must be the softness of the ground beneath my feet begging for seed during the planting season promising fruit during the harvest that keeps me pushing on head first into the wind and rain…into the fray…because I belong…because I am a storyteller…

When contemplating words and worlds, sometimes I go to the movies to see what other stories are being told.  It inspires/fuels/rouses me to create another day…  On my last such outing, I went to see THE GREY by Joe Carnahan and Ian Mackenzie Jeffers (based on the short story by Jeffers titled GHOST WALKER).  It is a wonderful movie, wonderfully told.  There is a poem in it that made me think of my life as a writer… in this time just before…

Once more into the fray

Into the last fight I’ll ever know

Live and die on this day

Live and die on this day.


And all the artists said, “Amen.”


  • By Diane Grant, February 16, 2012 @ 9:42 am



  • By Robin Byrd, February 16, 2012 @ 11:35 am

    Thanks, Diane. Thanks for reading.

  • By Nancy Beverly, February 17, 2012 @ 10:37 am

    Wow. This was wonderful. (Have you written a play about your experience w/ the gypsies? Not that you need to, this alone was beautiful.)

  • By Robin Byrd, February 17, 2012 @ 11:15 am

    Thanks, Nancy. No, I haven’t written a play but now that you mention it, I think I should. I love the music, too. There is a scene in THE RED VIOLIN where the violin is being played by a family of gypsies, the music and the people — same drawing effect.

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