My Chariot – Excerpt from Chapter 16 of Turquoise Interlude–A Counterculture Memoir of Free Love, Drugs, and Personal Growth in New Mexico 1968-1970

… When I descended the silver stairs from the plane into the hot Los Angeles day, I left the musty smells of Berkeley firmly in the past. 

Two days later, pushing down on the gas pedal of the green Willys jeep and shifting the gears, my dog Aloka and I departed, the smoggy city of L.A. sprawled contentedly behind us. The doors of my chariot were metal and removable, built in ventilation. There was no padding. But it had 4-wheel drive which I could access with a hand lever when the jeep was stopped. The noise of the engine blotted out the birds and other cars as I slowly and methodically made my way through the desert towards the mountains of New Mexico, my adopted home. 

The smells changed along the way, from diesel and the tickle of smog, to fir and pine trees, to cypress and wet sage, dry earth, and later to piñon and wood smoke. I felt strong and competent, with full energy. I still loved to drive and I had no time limit. The adventure of the road trip had started and was part of my odyssey. 

©2021   Marianna Mejia

A World of Yes – Excerpt from Chapter 16 of Turquoise Interlude–A Counterculture Memoir of Free Love, Drugs, and Personal Growth in New Mexico 1968-1970

… The pungent smell of marijuana wafts gently in the memories. We wake early, time for me to fly back to L.A. to pick up the delightfully underpriced, green Willys jeep. 

On the plane, thoughts of John were left in the corners of the house on McGee street, surrounded by pink flowers, other memories (loves) were yet to be opened in New Mexico, and the quiet in the plane emptied my mind. Sitting in time and space, waiting without pressure, high in the air, time was immaterial, until I landed to start the new story. A bittersweet taste lingered in my mouth and in my pores, the stories of John in Berkeley, of Rick in his tipi in Arroyo Hondo, the new (to me) green jeep waiting to claim me and I it, the drive across the country with Aloka back to my New Mexico home. –Oh, the compartments of my mind. The tastes and smells and sounds mingled into nothingness. 

And I wonder at the timelessness of memories. I did not know the concept of creating memories. I lived in the present, content to not think so much, content to experience without preconception this uncharted life trail I was following. Yes. It was a world of yes. 

©2021   Marianna Mejia

The Bracelet – Excerpt from Chapter 13 of Turquoise Interlude –A Counterculture Memoir of Free Love, Drugs, and Personal Growth in New Mexico 1968-1970

… Santa Fe. 

The turquoise and silver Navajo and Zuni jewelry, like the sky reflecting the sun, glistened intensely in the late spring day in the Plaza of Santa Fe, 1969. The Indian jewelry and the woven blankets and baskets, like I had seen as a child, lay spread out on the red plaza stones, the turquoise and silver drawing me in, again and again. 

Memories of ancient lives filtered into the present. Memories from this life intertwined. I lingered and let my fingers touch many of the pieces. My thoughts receded and energy now directed my fingers. Oh how I loved the deep turquoise absorbing the brightness of the day.


The grey-braided woman watched intently, her rotund body leaning toward me over the brown Pendleton blanket where she was seated on the plaza ground. I took a silent, deep breath and felt myself still. Again, I lifted my hand above the jewelry and this time let it float slowly from piece to piece, until the movement stopped of its own volition. Guided by this unseen, kinesthetic force, my fingers finally rested on an old Zuni pawn piece placed among the newer jewelry. The small, teardrop stones were blue and green, calling me as their pattern radiated outward. I fell in love with the delicate, heavy bracelet, its multi-colored turquoise stones set in silver, lit by the afternoon sun. I handed the woman most of the wrinkled green bills extricated from my small leather purse, a smile inside me.

As I placed the bracelet on my wrist, it seemed to meld to me as if it were part of me. Cloud Girl again came alive. “Who am I?” I wondered, “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. And now the bracelet had joined my life.

©2021   Marianna Mejia

Aloka, My Dog – Excerpt from Chapter 9 of Turquoise Interlude –A Counterculture Memoir of Free Love, Drugs, and Personal Growth in New Mexico 1968-1970

Early in spring, when the green was starting to come out of the earth again, I met Ben, a successful and brilliant painter. He visited the house one day with his “old lady,” whose beautiful black lab had recently had puppies. “I just dropped the last three puppies at the Taos pound,” she told me wistfully. “You have to go get one before they are put to sleep. Do it now. They are special.” By the next day I was convinced that I was ready for a puppy and I had to do it quickly. On the way to the pound, stopping for a minute at the Safeway parking lot in Taos, I met some friends who were standing outside with their brand-new baby named Aloka, a word they said, meant light in Tibetan. “What a beautiful name,” I exclaimed, “If your baby wasn’t already named Aloka, I would name my dog that.” 

“You can use it anyway,” they generously encouraged, “It’s okay with us.” 

By the time I arrived at the pound, it was closing, and I had to bang on the locked door. But the man in charge let me in when I informed him I had, “come for my dog.” He led me to the cage where the puppies were waiting and I reached in and pulled out the shorthaired, golden brown one, as if I already knew and loved her. Aloka’s warm body fit in my hand. I held her close to my heart and tears came to my eyes welcoming this important new family member.

©2021   Marianna Mejia

Cloud Girl’s Legacy – Excerpt from Chapter 12 of Turquoise Interlude – A Counterculture Memoir of Free Love, Drugs, and Personal Growth in New Mexico 1968-1970

 Cloud Girl was my soul sister, pulled from my child’s storybook, she became part of my being. Her winter home was a hogan in Arizona near the border of New Mexico. In the summers they camped with the sheep where the forest smelled fresh, its piñon trees shining after a summer rain. I identified with her and yearned to be Navajo. On that trip my parents bought me a velvet-clothed Navajo doll. Her turquoise skirt and brown shirt were belted by a silver conch, her black hair tied back with yarn. I treasured that doll, imagining that she could have been Cloud Girl’s mother, or Cloud Girl grown up, or me in another life. 

Seventeen years later, finally drawn back to New Mexico, I was alone and searching, finding my way in the high, thin air among the rocks and relics, wet, warm earth, and dry sun. Living near the Taos Indian Pueblo, the most Northern of the pueblos strung like a belt of unpolished diamonds across New Mexico, that strong Native American presence drew me in again. I felt called to be there and things were easy for me. New Mexico opened her doors and kept welcoming me. I was in heaven. The seeds sprouted and became ready to bloom. 

©2021 Marianna Mejia