A World of Yes – Excerpt from Chapter 16 of Turquoise Interlude–A Counterculture Memoir of Free Love, Drugs, and Personal Growth in New Mexico 1968-1970

… The pungent smell of marijuana wafts gently in the memories. We wake early, time for me to fly back to L.A. to pick up the delightfully underpriced, green Willys jeep. 

On the plane, thoughts of John were left in the corners of the house on McGee street, surrounded by pink flowers, other memories (loves) were yet to be opened in New Mexico, and the quiet in the plane emptied my mind. Sitting in time and space, waiting without pressure, high in the air, time was immaterial, until I landed to start the new story. A bittersweet taste lingered in my mouth and in my pores, the stories of John in Berkeley, of Rick in his tipi in Arroyo Hondo, the new (to me) green jeep waiting to claim me and I it, the drive across the country with Aloka back to my New Mexico home. –Oh, the compartments of my mind. The tastes and smells and sounds mingled into nothingness. 

And I wonder at the timelessness of memories. I did not know the concept of creating memories. I lived in the present, content to not think so much, content to experience without preconception this uncharted life trail I was following. Yes. It was a world of yes. 

©2021   Marianna Mejia

Patterns – Excerpt from Chapter 8 – of Turquoise Interlude –A Counterculture Memoir of Free Love, Drugs, and Personal Growth in New Mexico 1968-1970

That the patterns of my relationships were similar never entered my mind. I couldn’t recognize an alcoholic and I didn’t know about the violence that often accompanies habitual drinking. Drugs were the norm; heavy alcohol use did not alarm me. 

My psychotherapist self screams at my old self now, “Don’t you see the men you are picking? Why so many alcoholics hurling their anger without inhibition?” But the me of then hadn’t learned anything about this. Rebellious excess, especially among artists, had been glorified in recent literature, so I did not become discouraged nor question my choices in men. Their art and our shared passion loomed important to my psyche. I did not know enough to be scared. I had no clue about addiction and was only lucky that my body didn’t crave alcohol, that my genes were not alcoholic. 

My present self also knows that I have always been attracted to artists (all forms) and most of the artists I have known through the years fit the stereotype of “struggling” in many ways. This includes poverty, intense and focused artistic expression, and often drugs and alcohol. Artistic passion is what has always drawn me in. Alcohol and drugs are merely incidental, but not what attract me. 

©2021   Marianna Mejia

“Baile, Maria, Baile,” Excerpt from Chapter 4 – Andy’s Lessons, Turquoise Interlude –A Counterculture Memoir of Free Love, Drugs, and Personal Growth in New Mexico 1968-1970

During the fall, after the tourist season, La Cocina restaurant on the Taos Plaza hosted a weekly, inexpensive, all-you-can-eat shellfish buffet. Every Friday night during the “local season,” Andy and I would go there to eat. With my insatiable appetite for clams and oysters, they lost money on me! If I tired of the clams and oysters, they also served crab, lobster, shrimp and fish, all freshly flown in from New York. This sumptuous feast did draw the people in and so did the entertainment. 

After dinner, Antonio, a Chicano from Santa Fe, would play romantic, Spanish-flavored guitar and I would be moved to dance. “Baile, Maria, Baile,” he would call to me when he saw me. At his invitation I would pull myself up and let the music carry me, improvising song after song. I loosened my wavy brown hair and felt the damp sweat at my neck, cooled by my turquoise earrings which swung gently as I danced. My body stretched and turned, reached and drew back in, urged by the tones from Antonio’s guitar, inexhaustible. The trance propelled me until the music stopped and I came back to this world. Everyone clapped and shouted “Ole.”

©2021   Marianna Mejia

The Bracelet – Excerpt from Chapter 13 of Turquoise Interlude –A Counterculture Memoir of Free Love, Drugs, and Personal Growth in New Mexico 1968-1970

… Santa Fe. 

The turquoise and silver Navajo and Zuni jewelry, like the sky reflecting the sun, glistened intensely in the late spring day in the Plaza of Santa Fe, 1969. The Indian jewelry and the woven blankets and baskets, like I had seen as a child, lay spread out on the red plaza stones, the turquoise and silver drawing me in, again and again. 

Memories of ancient lives filtered into the present. Memories from this life intertwined. I lingered and let my fingers touch many of the pieces. My thoughts receded and energy now directed my fingers. Oh how I loved the deep turquoise absorbing the brightness of the day.


The grey-braided woman watched intently, her rotund body leaning toward me over the brown Pendleton blanket where she was seated on the plaza ground. I took a silent, deep breath and felt myself still. Again, I lifted my hand above the jewelry and this time let it float slowly from piece to piece, until the movement stopped of its own volition. Guided by this unseen, kinesthetic force, my fingers finally rested on an old Zuni pawn piece placed among the newer jewelry. The small, teardrop stones were blue and green, calling me as their pattern radiated outward. I fell in love with the delicate, heavy bracelet, its multi-colored turquoise stones set in silver, lit by the afternoon sun. I handed the woman most of the wrinkled green bills extricated from my small leather purse, a smile inside me.

As I placed the bracelet on my wrist, it seemed to meld to me as if it were part of me. Cloud Girl again came alive. “Who am I?” I wondered, “Who am I to wear this sacred jewelry?” The three-tiered Zuni turquoise earrings had been my first purchase in the Taos Indian Pueblo. They had become a part of me; I wore them every day. And now the bracelet had joined my life.

©2021   Marianna Mejia

Aloka, My Dog – Excerpt from Chapter 9 of Turquoise Interlude –A Counterculture Memoir of Free Love, Drugs, and Personal Growth in New Mexico 1968-1970

Early in spring, when the green was starting to come out of the earth again, I met Ben, a successful and brilliant painter. He visited the house one day with his “old lady,” whose beautiful black lab had recently had puppies. “I just dropped the last three puppies at the Taos pound,” she told me wistfully. “You have to go get one before they are put to sleep. Do it now. They are special.” By the next day I was convinced that I was ready for a puppy and I had to do it quickly. On the way to the pound, stopping for a minute at the Safeway parking lot in Taos, I met some friends who were standing outside with their brand-new baby named Aloka, a word they said, meant light in Tibetan. “What a beautiful name,” I exclaimed, “If your baby wasn’t already named Aloka, I would name my dog that.” 

“You can use it anyway,” they generously encouraged, “It’s okay with us.” 

By the time I arrived at the pound, it was closing, and I had to bang on the locked door. But the man in charge let me in when I informed him I had, “come for my dog.” He led me to the cage where the puppies were waiting and I reached in and pulled out the shorthaired, golden brown one, as if I already knew and loved her. Aloka’s warm body fit in my hand. I held her close to my heart and tears came to my eyes welcoming this important new family member.

©2021   Marianna Mejia