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

I Took My Teardrops – Excerpt from Part II When the Moon Dances – A Memoir of Becoming the Oldest Generation

…She still did not say one word. I sat with her, anointed her with oils, and stroked her hand. Yesterday, when I recited a poem to her, I kept wanting to sing but did not know what. Today I just sang. I sang my shamanic power song that I had journeyed for and received last year. “Heyalo, heyalo, heysu, heysu, heysu, hiya, hiya, hiya la, hiya hiya hi.” I sing it when I feel I need power. Then I sang some more, calling on the spirits to help. Did Mom respond? Or was that just wishful thinking? I let myself cry, and on impulse I took my teardrops and wiped them on her hand. I started crying more and put my head near her chest. It was then that she lifted her hand and hugged me and started stroking my hair. She is here. She seemed to be trying to push herself up, so I said, “If you want me to move you, raise your hand,” and she did. I told her about the nursing home and that she might go there or go home, depending. But either way, I told her, I would get to spend more time with her. She looked like she was trying to talk. She put her fingers to her mouth as if to move it. Instead of leaving, she has started to come back. Dare I hope?

©2020

Reflections at 75

Who am I now at 75, my long white hair with still hints of brown, my body still dancing, my fingers typing. My heart finds compassion connecting to the ones who seek help in my psychotherapy office, and in the yurt where we gather for the shamanic journey circles I lead, and to the students I dance with, teaching them Flamenco and what I learned on that path. Wisdom grows.

I am blessed to still have a passion and work to do before I die, before I pass from this mortal life and this body I still love. The passion becomes an urgency as I know mortality in new ways, the gift of elder-hood, the pain of losing a father. 

My tangible legacy will be the books I write –may they guide those who seek, and entertain the curious. 

 

©2020

Die or Get Off the Pot – Excerpt from Part II   When the Moon Dances – A Memoir of Becoming the Oldest Generation

December 22, 1996

…I remember when my Grandma Annie was in a nursing home with Alzheimer’s, almost comatose and not eating, it seemed logical that she felt ready to die.  She should have been able to just stop eating if she wanted to, but they wouldn’t let her. Voluntarily not eating is a withdrawal to death that seems non-violent and makes sense to me.

Now I wonder about Mom. Maybe it is just her time and we are forcing her to stay alive by feeding her. But, what if she can recover? When do we respect her choice and when do we decide that her choice is incompetent and should not be honored? What about the Eskimo elders who traditionally went out into the snow to die? I believe in the right to choose a conscious death. I wouldn’t want to be kept alive against my will. The question remains: when do we “let” Mom choose to eat or not to eat? I don’t know if there are answers.

Today has been difficult –is this my new normal? I feel so discouraged. I thought, “I’m bored. Now what?” Going to the hospital twice a day for what feels like nothing is getting to me. This afternoon I stayed with Mom a long time, hoping for at least one word or at least a sign. It’s kind of like “die or get off the pot.” I’m angry that I am bored. I’m angry about a lot of things now. I know this is a stage of grief – the anger stage. I accept it intellectually. I feel it now, strongly, when I write, alone with my thoughts. When I am with Mom I get caught in hope or in wishful thinking. Now the anger wraps me like a heavy blanket. I need to write it down, although I should go to bed so I can wake up to more of the same routine. How tiring –both the anger and the hospital visits.

©2019

The End of Before –Excerpt from Part I

Chapter 1 –  Glass fragments

            The placid Middle Eastern water changed without warning –like our lives.

May 31, 1996 

The very short woman and the very tall woman have graced this stretch of sand for twenty-five years. In the old days, these bikini-clad women would walk quickly together from their homes to the seashore and then up and down the entire beach. They swam arrogantly in all kinds of seas, taking risks they thought their immortal bodies would always be able to conquer.

Now, Virginia waits by the front door, with Sami the dog, for her best friend, Deena from Finland. The car door slams. Sami joins Deena’s dog Meelu in the back seat. After Deena helps Virginia into the front, she drives the five minutes to the dirt cliff above the beach. The guard at the gate, after taking the cigarette from his mouth, smiles, and waves them through to the restricted area. Continuing down the steep, rutted hill to the sand, they park next to Clement’s old yellow Peugeot –a great honor.

Near the water, they sit on plastic chairs inside the lifeguard domain, fenced in with status, heating up in the Israeli sun. They are family to Clement, the aging senior lifeguard. Deena is his ex-lover, the secret everyone knows.

Each morning their daily routine follows the same pattern. These days Virginia, her face lined, but her compact body still shapely, can only shuffle minute distances before her leg cramps or she simply feels too tired to lift her feet. So Deena passes her, walking to the Sharon Hotel and back, her aching body now also stooped, slowing but not stopping her determination. Back at their chairs they sit and talk –books they are reading, family, archeology, classical music concerts in Tel Aviv, Deena’s heart problems. Virginia strains forward to hear Deena’s words, their years of intimacy filling in the gaps, bridging the empty spaces.

Then it is time to swim. On a calm day Virginia takes a few crawl strokes, mostly standing in the warm Mediterranean. The shallow waves roll gently, caressing my mother and the sand. When the sea is rough, the waves throw her around, but even this vulnerable, she hates to be helped. So, soon she struggles back to the shore alone, watching Deena’s long body move smoothly across the water.

The sun leaves salt speckles on their drying skin and the next ritual begins. Deena enters the small, dark lifeguard shack, plugs in the kettle on the weathered countertop, and returns with two cups of weak-smelling Nescafe. Virginia’s job is to wash the cups afterwards, a task which she performs faithfully, a vestige of her independence. …

There was a time along the shore when the aquamarine glass fragments from the ancient Roman glass factory at Apollonia were plentiful in the tide-swept sand. Now those round glass jewels only sometimes sparkle, alone and translucent in the sunlight, next to new green chips from the current era. …

©2019 Marianna Mejia