“Baile, Maria, Baile” Excerpt from Chapter 4 of Turquoise Interlude 1968

Baile, Maria, Baile” Excerpt from Chapter 4 of Turquoise Interlude   1968

… 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.”

One night, Antonio surprised me. He brought in some of his hand carved furniture and I discovered that he was a talented woodcarver. Impressed, I bought a low, tall backed, carved wooden chair from him. It was short enough so that my feet could reach the floor, and its high backrest was decorated with simple, hand-carved designs. I proudly placed my beautiful chair in Andy’s and my new living room. This was my second major purchase in the Land of Enchantment. The chair, which I have managed to haul throughout my life, now sits in my current living room, next to the front door. My turquoise earrings now adorn my wall. They have been with me, amazingly, for most of my life. …

©2020

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

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

Now the Bracelet had Joined My Life – from Turquoise Interlude

The small, teardrop stones were blue and green, calling me as their pattern radiated outward. The grey-braided woman watched intently, her rotund body leaning toward me over the brown Pendleton blanket where she was seated. My fingers rested on an old Zuni pawn piece she had placed among the newer jewelry. I fell in love and paid for the large, stiff bracelet with wrinkled green bills extricated from my pocket where I had stuffed them. Cloud girl again came alive, as I wondered, “Who am I? 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. Now the bracelet had joined my life.
©2016

M in NM 69CroppedCloudGirl