My Welcoming Gift, Excerpt from Chapter 4 of Turquoise Interlude 1968

… He cajoled me with local restaurants and scenic drives, even flying me over Taos in his tiny plane. Green and brown surrounded miniature mud houses, the scene a painting out the clouded oval window, from high in the air. We swooped down low over the Valdez valley and rose up again as we turned away from the high mountains. The Rio Grande river wound like a thread of green through red and yellow. Lines of black pavement cut through fields and trees. I was entranced.

The festival of San Geronimo took place at the Taos Pueblo, one of the oldest original reservations –thick yellow adobe, scrawny dogs with tongues waving in the still heat, blue doors and wooden ladders. A pair of handmade Zuni earrings dangling silver and turquoise called to me from a booth. Typical narrow oval pieces of desert blue, were unique in the tiers, set in silver, turquoise strands dripping daintily from halfmoons.  As I placed them on my ears, I felt a magical power of New Mexico fuse into me. My first southwestern jewelry purchase became my welcoming gift from this land of enchantment. I felt I belonged. My mouth widened to a smile and my eyes, shining, became a little more green in the turquoise reflections.

Later, chatting through cigarette smoke, alcohol and laughter at the dark and narrow La Cantina bar on one side the Taos Plaza square, I met newcomers and seasoned residents in this gathering place for Bohemians, artists and the young hippies just starting to discover Taos. My new earrings reflected the desert sky almost to my shoulders, my fingers reaching up to caress them as I looked into the eyes of strangers soon to become friends.  …

©2020

Without Agenda, Excerpt from Chapter 2 – Turquoise Interlude 1968

… Following my heart without agenda, after saying goodbye to Yvonne, I climbed into Bob’s colorful bus and we headed north along the Rio Grande. “I asked the creator last night to bring me my soulmate,” he told me again later that day, as we drove past Arroyo Seco, a tiny town above Taos. That was when Taos only had one stoplight. Arroyo Seco, of course, didn’t have any and most of its roads were unpaved.

At 7,500 feet in the lower mountains, near the end of the bumpy dirt road, we arrived at a sunny meadow filled with sunflowers and corn, where Bob had pitched his tipi.  His buffalo rug still covered the floor. His two homemade wooden bowls were simple and organized. His fire pit was small. He lived in the now.

We slept on the buffalo hide rug, cooked over a fire, and washed his two bowls in the shallow stream, which ran through the meadow.

The days were filled with outdoor adventure. I remember hiking through a high desert sagebrush-filled plain and then descending a tiny, winding trail through more pungent sagebrush, and climbing down large rocks to an abandoned hot-springs on the Rio Grande River. In the crumbling ruins of a former healing retreat, on the sand by the water, naked in the sun, Bob and I tanned deer hides, smoothing and preparing them with rocks and softening them with cow brains until they became smooth and pliable in the heat. We washed ourselves in the springs and made love on the steaming stones. Later we hauled the tanned hides back up to the rocks and across the sagebrush to the blue bus.

Bob’s long hair and beard softened his face. Brown red hair shone in the sun, hanging down as he worked on his engine, contented and methodical, as if he had all the time he wanted, as if his way of life followed this path of the present.

At a friend’s meadowland in the foothills above the tipi, I took acid and wandered around the low mountains without my clothes, admiring tall shady pot plants, feeling the grasses and the close, clean sun on my skin, breathing the thin air. The bordering piñon forest was soothing and inviting, the ground soft and giving.

Bob and I walked with friends up the mountains above Arroyo Seco in Indian land to a secret waterfall and we picked wild mushrooms in the dawn, in this land of enchantment, the motto written in red on the yellow car license plates.

Through Bob, I met the current young locals, many of whom lived in abandoned adobe houses whose owners wanted them occupied. It was cheap and easy to live in Arroyo Seco and Taos in 1968.

I stayed there, enjoying life without electricity or running water, seduced by the New Mexico slowness of life, for two weeks instead of one. The high desert enfolded me, opening me to the new possibilities.  …

©2020

New Mexico Opens to Me, Excerpt from Chapter 2 – Turquoise Interlude 1968

Through the dirty bus window, lush green eventually turned to sand with cactus standing guard. We bumped along, passing rounded buildings and Indian Pueblos, until the bus finally stopped in a little town of adobe houses and quiet streets. As the doors rumbled open, exhaust fumes and heat greeted me. Grabbing my bag, I stepped out of the station, and after stretching my legs, started walking, following the directions handwritten in neat black ink on a crumpled piece of paper.

Yvonne’s house was in a complex of adobe apartments, with blue painted door trims, its landscape dirt and sagebrush, separated from the unpaved road by an adobe wall with a peeling green door. The high desert air was dry and still. Yvonne greeted me with a smile and a hug, the Zuni turquoise bracelet on her wrist matched the morning sky, its silver reflecting the clear, hot sun. The last time we had seen each other was when we had taken acid and camped at Pyramid Lake, Nevada, where I had walked inside of Bob’s tipi. Yvonne’s green eyes were calm and knowing. I wanted to learn what she knew. I felt grateful to sleep on the cold tile of her living room floor. The piñon tree scented air with the clearing smell of sage entered my body through my breath. A smile spread throughout me. An air of excitement streamed through my being. …

 ©2020

Excerpt from the Beginning of Turquoise Interlude, by Marianna Mejia

When the moon shines over new snow, when the cold air is dry and strong, the memories of when I was new come forward from the deep recesses in my heart.

The land of enchantment, 1968, grabbed my imagination and wove it into a cloak of turquoise and velvet, garnets and teepees, in the Sangre de Cristo mountains. Sunsets lit up high desert plains. Mountains with sunflower and marijuana, trees with paths of wild strawberries leading up to hidden meadows. Outhouses and frozen pipes. Belly dancing and mothering wild cats. Writing poems and taking acid or mescaline. Fasting on brown rice until the rutted dirt roads rippled flowing earth before me, as I walked home from town. Cows grazing with snow on their backs. Helping a sacred crazy man and an angry, passionate red headed dulcimer player.

The memories breathe again as I read the journals I wrote then, in my early twenties. So different it feels in my 70s. I did that? The shock has a sense of humor. I would never have remembered if I had not written the words from my soul into pages and pages as I traveled through my early life, the free spirit I was, full of love and adventure. And it is part of what has made me who I am now.

I am still moving forward in my mid-70s. I give thanks for the rich path I have followed. My regrets are very few and not significant.

I am still learning and excited…

©2018

Remembering A Time Past – The Fairy Tale Conflict – When I First Met Jack Excerpt from Part I When the Moon Dances, Becoming the Oldest Generation

… How different Jack was when I met him, at Mom’s house in Venice, during the Fairy Tale conflict, back in the early 70’s.

The year before, Mom had given me our old fairy tale books, their rain spotted covers wrapping the yellowed pages that survived a flood in Mom’s childhood basement. Gnarled twisting trees that were people, bears who were princes, the wild bright hair of the moon escaping her dark cape to light up the swamp, a barefoot maiden picking miraculous strawberries from the snow of a winter forest –these ornate illustrations by Arthur Rackham and Edmond Dulac remained indelible in my psyche.

Oh how Lainey and I loved those precious books! They infused our childhood with their wisdom. One night, I burst into tears when a banished princess picked the forbidden rose. I was so distraught that my mother stopped reading to us, closing the book, her coiffed blond hair hardly moving above her puzzled face. She could not comfort me –did not know how.

Later I studied Jung, and knew deep inside these stories were pagan teachings gone underground. They shaped my view of life –love would find me if I overcame the right obstacles, I must suffer loss in life’s journey, being true to myself, magic. In that chaos called childhood, I tried so hard to be perfect, to be accepted by her, my mother. I forgot the lesson that disobedient mistakes can fuel growth. My imperfect tears gathered inside me as I grew.

At Black Bear Ranch, I kept the books safely locked in our medicine room inside the Gold Rush-era main house. I retrieved them to read to our commune children in the soft glow of the many kerosene lamps, and then I methodically replaced them, gently laying each sacred book on the dark wooden shelf, before I turned the long metal key. No one else was allowed to touch them.

Shortly after Elun was born, to celebrate Passover, I drove 700 miles from the isolated mountains of Northern California, to my Mom’s house in Venice, overlooking the edge of the ocean.

Tired, I walked through the door carrying Elun in a beaded Indian cradleboard. My long, patchouli scented, handmade velvet skirt felt shabby in the light of civilization, and my dusty mountain boots seemed out of place. But a warm glow covered my face as I greeted my family. The smells of roast lamb and matzo ball soup drifted in from the well-lit kitchen. My hungry stomach tightened in anticipation. At the commune, we ate deer when we could, but not nearly enough meat or eggs for my protein cravings. Here my mother’s comforts fed my material yearnings.

Mom presented her new boyfriend, Jack, whose eyes sparkled when he shook my hand, and then they both returned to the kitchen for the meal’s final preparations. Mom’s mahogany dining room table was already set with the bird patterned china plates, candles, a ceremonial Passover platter and Haggadahs, the book we all read from during the Passover service.

With a brief knock at the door…

© 2018