MARIPOSA by Candis C. Coffee
A spiritual, intellectual, brave young woman creates the life of her dreams, only to be deeply disappointed by its inability to sustain her.
The setting of Mariposa is 1920s and 1930s West Texas, Los Angeles, and Mexico. The theme is that of a spiritual quest – a young woman’s desire to feel the magic she believes exists in connections to nature, to people. Deep down, she feels that fulfillment of spiritual longing, the ultimate mystical experience, is found within a connection to the “other.” The other for Annarose – an Anglo woman from rural 1920s Texas – is a Mexican man. Along the way, the story illuminates the perils of prejudice as well as the intimate, yet treacherous bond that exists between Anglo and Mexican people who live side by side near the border.
As a child in West Texas, Annarose sees life and intelligence in everything. She finds herself in a relationship with an invisible “Presence,” which beckons to her spirit and with whom she feels most alive. A friendship with a Mexican boy and her love of the landscape also nurture this young girl who feels rejected by her Mother.
Annarose is deeply hurt when she is banished to Los Angeles at thirteen. She loses her connection to spirit, then begins to seek it again through intellectual pursuits. Here she finds herself in a waiting room between worlds, that of Texas and Mexico.
Her philosophical studies and supportive friendship with Estelle, a gifted musician, lead to an awakening for Annarose. She becomes a writer, and she travels to Mexico. She wants to feel life again. She meets Mexican muralist, Crisanto and chooses him as her lover. He is her connection to all that is beautiful, wild, free and happy because he is the “Other” and she feels that she can also find aspects of the maternal within him. She befriends the artist, Frida Kahlo. She embraces all that this man, his people and his country represent.
In the end, Annarose returns to West Texas alone, ready to give birth to their child. Over a period of three days, the “Now” of the story, she spends time with her family, and she recalls her experiences. She finds peace, and she finally comprehends the true nature of joy.
This is first person literary fiction – an experience of self-discovery for educated women, particularly ethnic minorities between the ages of 16 and 60. The book contains about 87,000 words.
Mariposa is divided into three stages of Annarose’s life. The first is her youth in 1923 West Texas. Here I tell the story of Annarose’s childhood, her relationship with the Presence, her family, and her friend, Ismael. I introduce a young girl in love with mystery. The second section is 1930s Los Angeles. In this part I write about Annarose’s life in LA, her inspiring friendship with Estelle, and her new spiritual quest, which now involves reading and thinking rather than direct experience. The third stage is 1930s Mexico, the story of Annarose’s connection with magic, her love affair with Mexican muralist, Crisanto, friendship with Frida Kahlo, and the understanding of her true motivations for being in Mexico, with these people. She acknowledges her need to find connection to Spirit and magic outside herself.
The idea is to bring to light passages in Annarose’s life, with the most important occurring at the age of 13, then again thirteen years later. At the beginning of the story we meet the adult Annarose, who at 26 must decide what to do with herself, now that she has begun to see that, though her quest and objectives were honorable, the path she chose toward them was misguided. We then meet the child Annarose at the age of 13. This is a significant period, due to her spiritual life, her feelings for her friend, Ismael, and her eventual exile to Los Angeles. I divided the story into 13 chapters, with the idea that each would describe meaningful events or themes in her life. I chose the title Mariposa because the story is about transformation.