Maria – Excerpt from Chapter 10 of Turquoise Interlude 1969

… In my upstairs bedroom in Arroyo Seco, Maria, born and raised in Taos, teaches me how to move my body in this lifetime, and later I practice smoothing my rough, apprentice movements. Over and over, carried by the music, I repeat and repeat, trying to emulate the exotic and fluid Maria. 

Her tall shapely body sways to the music, undulating and rippling with a sensual beauty –her dancing like the river flowing. “You must surrender in your dancing, and you must dance with your heart as well as your body. Dance your soul,” Maria whispers sagely. 

Here in New Mexico, Maria had touched something primal and ancient, asleep and buried inside of me. From her I learned the importance of letting go, receiving and giving, of strength, and that the dance had come from the ancient Egyptian temple priestesses. …

©2021 Marianna Mejia

Seeing the Lachish (Laheesh) Archeological Restoration Project for the First Time –  Excerpt from Part I When the Moon Dances, Becoming the Oldest Generation

… I remember standing on the bare, mounded dirt staring at the large excavations spread out into the distances, baked hard under the desert sun. Looking up at the blue of the still sky, I tried to imagine a city beneath it, filled with people carrying earthen jars to the well, dust covered children laughing and old bearded men immersed in their bibles. Women with weathered faces and wise eyes helped the smooth-skinned mothers. Artisans worked in shaded doorways. What animals lived in this city? Goats? Sheep? Camels? There must have been trees. My gaze returns to the present, away from the baron rocks my feet feel beneath my shoes. Away from the site of Jack’s dreams, I open my eyes to this house in Herzlia Petuach.

Telling Mom about Mayevsky, Jack trembled in anger as his face flushed red and his blue eyes bulged. Feeding his ego-driven agitation, Virginia, the “good wife,” agreed. She assured Jack that this rival would indeed erase all traces of Jack’s name there. I gasped silently. Jack felt supported by her agreement as to the importance of this threat. I felt as if I were in an old-fashioned movie and was reminded of the Egyptian Pharaohs removing each other’s cartouches from the monuments, erasing their memory from the future eyes of history.

© 2018-2021 Marianna Mejia

Shlomo – Excerpt from Part II – When the Moon Dances, Becoming the Oldest Generation

“The root letter of desert has to do with speaking.” I am in the desert now and Mom is not speaking. “This concept,” Shlomo continued, “is explored in the Kabala. The roots of the Hebrew language are letters and are like the root of the tree. The derivatives of those roots represent the stems and branches and fruits.” His brown eyes glistened intensely from his golden Iraqi face as he leaned toward me. “Whatever passes through the roots goes throughout the whole tree all up to the last leaf on the top. If you know what is in the root, you know what is in all the words that have evolved from it. You have to go to the root and you will find the connection.”

I looked up at him, contemplating his roots. Shlomo’s parents, Iraqi Jews, had immigrated to Israel when Shlomo was a child. He speaks five languages, including his somewhat accented English. He doesn’t count the Bedouin, which he dismissed as just an offshoot of Arabic. I heard him speak it when we visited the Sinai, eating on pillows in a carpeted tent coffee house on the beach. “Yes, I learned some Bedouin from my fellow workers when I was employed building a road here,” he had explained.

My mind drifted to that trip. We had gone with Mom, Jack, and Deena to Elat. Mom was eighty then, and the newspaper did a feature story on her because my amazing mother swam with the dolphins there. At the time, I had considered it normal. That was my Mom and I expected it. What I never expected was her current condition. But the dolphins must have known she was sick, because they swam up to her and gave her special attention.

The next day, the older generation taking it easy, had stayed at the timeshare when the rest of us walked across the Egyptian border to the Sinai. We flagged a taxi and drove along the sea coast to the beach that Shlomo knew, where we snorkeled in the quiet, salty water and drank Egyptian coffee as we reclined on the soft oriental rugs. Am I now stepping into the older generation that Mom seems to be vacating? As Mom goes silent, the spirits speak to me and guide me. The people of Mom’s life now teach me, forcing lessons that I do not choose, pushing me in directions I did not anticipate.

©2018-2021 Marianna Mejia

A Passover Musing 3/30/18

Passover is a gathering of families remembering a shared Jewish history on a specific full moon, all over the world. We pledge to remember and remind to fight slavery and oppression, for we were slaves in Egypt once, and knew the bitterness of bondage.

We, my ancestors, were fleeing Egypt once on this date. Was the air warm and soft like it is tonight? Did the scent of jasmine and honeysuckle infuse their senses like it did to me tonight? The full moon shines its blessing now as it did then. I remember that my people were slaves in Egypt, a country I still feel kin to. A country of past lives.

I know the water was warmer there than here, for I have swam in her waters, bathed by foam and salt. On a night like this night they followed Moses into the water, parted by the tides over sandbars, and they passed out of Egypt and slavery. With them they carried their half-made bread, the unleavened cracker we call Matzo. It reminds us at Passover, of our ancestors’ haste to finally flee the Pharaoh. Tonight, I remember the story while eating the Matzo.

I imagine the bitter root and charoset, the cruelty of slavery and the sticky sweetness of the fruit and nut mortar connecting us to the bricks of our past.

Tonight, I almost forget parts of the Seder, parts of the story or a meaning. As the years pass and I skip formal Seders, my son, on the other side of the country, carries the tradition. In his childhood, I led the Sedars. Now the memories mix in my being; I see and feel the pictures of the Passover story, being in two places at once, a different understanding born of seventy-three years of opening, born of the ancestors joining me, of honoring this ritual of Passover every year of our lives.

Does the hardboiled egg, placed on a platter next to the parsley and salt water, symbolize spring and birth? The shank bone reminds us how our forebears smeared blood above their doors and the sickness passed over them, during the time of the plagues. Does my love of lamb come from my ancestors, passed like a memory, through generations?

Passover –a gathering of families remembering a shared Jewish history on a specific full moon, all over the world. We pledge to remember and remind to fight slavery and oppression, for we were slaves in Egypt once, and knew the bitterness of bondage.

 

©2018 Marianna Mejia