Unacknowledged Death – Excerpt from Call to My Soul – Dancing the Path to True Love

…through my psychotherapy internship at the Parents’ Center, I took a bibliotherapy workshop. I remember sitting in a dark, little room at the Parents’ Center, reading and talking about one of the books, when my eyes suddenly welled up. Long suppressed tears rolled down my cheeks, uncorking the realization that I had never mourned the death of my first child, the ephemeral Dawn Leaf, who had been premature and had died after twenty-four hours. At Black Bear Ranch commune, where I had been living, her death had been ignored, never mentioned at all, and I had stuffed the sadness deep inside me, unable to express it to anyone, not remembering that death must be mourned. The hospital had not told me anything about her burial, and I arrived back at the Ranch with no body and no certificate. It was as if she had never existed. At that commune we had not yet learned about death rituals, having not experienced much death at our young ages. We did not know how to talk about it or acknowledge it. And I was too traumatized to ask about burial or funeral. I did not even realize that I was traumatized. I only felt empty.

©2022  Marianna Mejia 

The Mysterious Dancer – Excerpt from Call to My Soul – Dancing the Path to True Love

…Occasionally Steve and Alice would give parties, Flamenco fiestas that lasted all night. Flamenco artists from all over the Bay area would come, drinking, eating, dancing, singing, and playing guitar until dawn. I lived for these fiestas, for the high that followed being in non-stop, group Flamenco land. Living with Freddie kept me in the Flamenco flow, but the parties took it to a new level. Some would last three days.

One night, Jenny whispered to me, “You have to stay up until four in the morning to see this one guy dance. He only dances then, and he is really good. He is also really cute.” So the next night we both made plans to watch together, and sure enough, as the night stretched toward dawn and many people left, a handsome, young, dark haired man arose to dance to the guitars that played unfailingly, the soul of the music growing with the length of the night. I found out much later, that the dancer, Roberto, who also became a singer, was too shy to dance earlier, which is why he waited until fewer people were awake, to get up his courage to dance. But at that time, to Jenny and me, he just seemed mysterious and otherworldly as well as very good. 

©2022  Marianna Mejia 

No Longer a Frightening Mystery  – Tuning My VW – Excerpt from Call to My Soul – Dancing the Path to True Love

I would make the half-hour drive from Watsonville to their house in my little blue Volkswagen Bug. After I had learned to tune its engine, I was feeling competent and powerful in that knowledge. But one time, when I was driving there, just after tuning the engine, I heard a loud pop and was barely able to pull into a gas station before the car sputtered to a stop. Looking under the hood with my newly found expertise, I saw that a spark plug was out, so I stuck it back in. But it didn’t stay. There was a bigger problem. I had made a costly mistake.

Because my how-to manual had not cautioned me to only hand tighten the spark plugs on this model car, I had used a wrench and inadvertently cross threaded the plug. Unbeknownst to me, the next time I had tuned it, there was nothing to hold the spark plug in. The whole engine and to be pulled and fixed. A Heli coil had to be machined in. My step-brother was studying mechanics at the time and he generously did the work for me. I was disgusted because it was such a preventable mistake. After it was fixed, I decided that only mechanics should work on my car and that I should stick to dancing. It was dance that grabbed my heart, not mechanics. But I remained happy that engines were no longer a frightening mystery to me. 

©2022  Marianna Mejia 

And Then There Was Freddie – Excerpt from Call to My Soul – Dancing the Path to True Love

Freddie’s exotic looks came from his Filipino, Mexican Indian, Spanish, French and German background. His five-foot ten frame was long and thin and strong. His mind was curious and competent. In 1948, when Freddie was nine years old, his mother had put him and his older sister Dorothy in a Flamenco dance class. “She loved Rudolph Valentino,” Freddie told me later, “but she couldn’t find a Tango class, so she figured Flamenco was good enough. It would do.” 

Because Freddie was very shy and felt uncomfortable dancing, he asked Ramón, his teacher, if he could play guitar instead. “Yes,” Ramón told him, “when you get a guitar.” But Freddie’s widowed mother had very little money and couldn’t afford to buy him a guitar. Freddie’s father had died when Freddie was six years old, and his proud, struggling mother worked hard to take care of her family. 

… However, the fates must have already had a path for Freddie. A short while later, a neighbor boy spent the night at Freddie’s house and peed in the bed. The little boy felt so bad that he gave Freddie his guitar. And so, at nine years old, Freddie began a lifetime as a Flamenco guitarist. …Flamenco had grabbed Freddie’s soul, as it later would mine. 

©2022  Marianna Mejia 

We are Finally Together – Excerpt from Call to My Soul – Dancing the Path to True Love

Freddie and I walked hand in hand when we hauled the garbage cans down to the street each week. Afterwards we would sit on Mama’s bench, first kissing her tree and saying, “Hello Mama,” and then simply breathing and looking at the sparkling lights above the distant ocean, under the stars of the night air. We often smoked a joint together, sitting on that wooden bench, amazed at how romantic it had become to take out the garbage. Each time we did this weekly ritual, we gave thanks for being together in this paradise. Joy flowed through us and we seemed to expand into the universe. “Thank you spirits,” I said, “for giving me this true love. For giving us this true love.” 

©2022  Marianna Mejia