In class, we often use poetry as inspiration. One week, we read Brian Doyle’s wonderful prose poem “What Matters,” which led to students’ epiphanies about the marvels of their daily lives. (For Doyle’s original, see Carlos’ version is included below along with his profile.

We also write in response to prompts such as “I remember.” Talía’s freewrite brought her back to a life-changing period she spent in Paris. “One hundred and Thirty-Three Steps” follows her profile below.

Carlos Emilio Rodríguez Barrientos

by Dhilery Alejandra García Hernandez

Carlos is a Zihuatanejo native, though he hasn’t lived there in a long time. He came to Morelia looking for another way of life and for opportunities. He sees Morelia as a temporary place to live while he is studying communications at Universidad Latina de América.

What he misses the most about Zihuatanejo is the sand and his family. However, living alone has some benefits, such as being more independent, which has helped Carlos to get to know himself.

He would like to focus on writing. This is what Carlos loves to do as often as he can. A good whisky and a cigar are the perfect friends when Carlos is writing. He also likes to play guitar. For some time he wanted to be a great musician to travel around the world with his friends and his guitar. He would like to study in a different country, especially England because he loves their musical history.

Writing or being in the movie industry is what Carlos would like to see in his future in a big city. For now, he is enjoying his college years as much as he can.

”What Matters” by Carlos…..

What matters to me is the joy in life. The little moments that create big memories. The wind touching my skin while I´m running to reach the future. The taste of coffee in the morning. The heat of the sand when I walk in the beach. The cold water of the sea, drowning the bad memories. The hands of my friends pushing me toward new adventures. A text message in the afternoon announcing a party. A good book taking me to unexplored lands. An exciting movie to forget the homework. Waking up very late and realizing it’s Sunday and I can sleep in. A big chocolate ice cream in the park, watching the clouds traveling across the huge blue sky. A piano singing to the heart of the city. The bright of the moon covering the cold skin of a dreaming town. The crystalline waters of the rivers flowing into the huge sea. Singing until the voice gets tired. Dreaming about the future and awakening with a new goal. The embrace of a mother after a long time without seeing her son. The smile of a woman after a sweet kiss on her lips. The tears of a father, carrying his newborn son to the arms of his wife. The love.

Talía De Niz Pérez Negrón by Maribel Barcena

Talía is a Mexican design student at Universidad Latina de América in Morelia, Michoacán and will graduate at the end of spring term. When you first meet her, it’s hard to tell where she is from. This is partly because of her name, which she doesn’t care for because it’s not very common. But it’s also because her fluency in three languages – Spanish, French and English – makes it difficult to identify an accent let alone an ethnicity.

Talía is much more than a design student. She is writer, artist, world traveler and hopeless romantic. Her experiences while studying abroad in Paris forced her to become more personable and outgoing. She says that when you go to a foreign place where you don’t know anybody you have to reach out and be more present, because everyone needs a friend. In Paris she found more than friends.  She found love in the beauty and culture of France. Ask her about her daily walks to buy fresh baguettes at the bakery near her Paris apartment or about the crazy coincidence that brought her to live in the same apartment as that of Dominique Bredoteau, a character in the French film “Amélie” – a favorite of hers. Ask her anything about France and her face instantly illuminates with joy and nostalgia.

She loves the little things in life: dancing in the shower or singing aloud to songs she loves whether it’s ACDC or Selena Gomez, and her favorite Miguel Bose.  She adores romantic French songs, British accents, and American football. This shows what a well -rounded person she is.  Talía may not know exactly what she wants in life and does not have all the answers in the palm of her hand.  However, she knows how to follow her heart and so far it’s led her in the right direction. She has already accomplished so much and plans to do more. Next on her list is a visit to India and the Taj Mahal, as well as application to a Masters Program in Barcelona, Spain to study shoe design and creation.

“One Hundred and Thirty-Three Steps”

We are always curious, afraid, and uncertain of the firsts steps we take in life as children and as grownups in new, mysterious places. This is true even when those steps become memorable ones. Here is my story, one hundred and thirty-three steps I’ll never forget.

I remember the walk from home to the bakery: one hundred and thirty-three steps toward the delightful smell of fresh baked bread. There I was, living my life with different numbers and foreign words: six was the number, Jasmine the Street, 16 the district and Paris the place. At the first step, one big door opened, followed by the sound of footsteps and of a door closing behind. Then all the things around me came to life. To the right, the newspaper stand – click, clack, click, clack – my fifteenth step, to my left the smell of cheese drowned my senses. Ten steps later, the post office, another twenty steps, the police station.

Forty, forty-one, forty-two… Look at that beautiful dog!… forty-five, forty-six… Bonjour madame!… forty-nine, fifty… These were the sounds in my head every day on my walk to the bakery. Counting steps is a funny thing to do, I thought to myself almost every day, but why not? Why not make every step of my way a number I could remember for the rest of my days?

From the seventieth step, the walk was filled with colors and smells, especially in autumn. Close to step number one hundred there were lots and lots of leaves on the ground with colors I’d never seen before: yellow, orange, red, all mixed with the amazing feeling of almost.

One hundred and thirty-one, two, three… Bonjour, je veux une baguette s’il vous plaît, I said while my eyes checked each shelf filled with macarons, croque monsieurs, pains au chocolat, eclairs and the first bouches de noël. My hand searched my pocket for coins while the keys clanked with the money. After paying I stayed there for a short time to feel the warm bread in my hands through the paper bag, smell the combined ingredients and take the first bite of the baguette. That was it! That was THE moment where my every sense was complete, my eyes, my ears, my mouth, my hands. It was like being in a movie, maybe a scene from Amélie.

Why did I count my steps? Because I didn’t want to forget, because everyday in that place was like a dream to me. Because the fact of being there was magical, feeling the autumn air in my hair, the sound of people speaking French, the children playing, the discrete laughter, the intoxicating smell of the red wine, a smell I knew but had never enjoyed before. Because I was afraid to wake up and realize that the grass under my legs and my feet, the colors behind the beautiful and amazing lady of iron – la tour Eiffel – might be nothing more than my favorite dream. I counted my steps so I could replay them in my head. I wanted to be completely sure that I was really living in the same place that Dalí, Hemingway, Rodin, Monet, and Piaf once did. One hundred and thirty-three steps changed my life and made me realize that dreams can come true.

We always are curious, afraid, and uncertain not just of the first steps we take in life but sometimes of life itself. Some fears disappear and others remain. For me forgetting is the biggest fear. That’s the major reason why I try so hard to remember special things in different ways.