Just before I left for my acupuncture appointment I was reading the latest New Yorker article on Frida Kahlo, so it was in my head as I drifted off into my acupunture 'nap'. In case you're not familiar with acupuncture, after the appropriate needles are inserted, you're left in a darkened room for about half an hour, pins in, while the treatment takes effect.
Actually I'm coming to love that respite in the middle of the day. Many people sleep but I don't, and definitely not this time. Starting in my usual way, I visualize myself lying there outlined in white chalk, like what's drawn on the pavement at a crime scene. Then I see my 'chi' or energy as bright lime green lines, flowing up towards my head from each of the needles while I mentally chant 'Go chi!'. Sometimes I feel a tingling sensation and imagine the green lines shimmering as the needles do their work. So with this picture in my head, I flashed back to the article and started stepping through my memories.
California was where I first became familiar with Frida Kahlo, even before a trip to Mexico where we visited her home and studio, Casa Azul in Coyoacán. That was when I fell in love with the particular deep purple/blue color of her house, which I later used on the wall behind shelves housing mementoes from our visit. That was also when I joined the Kahlo cult. As the article points out, 'why not? The world will have cults, and who better merits one?'
So back to my self-visualization on the acupuncture table. I remembered Frida's use of a mirror above while she painted her body below and immediately thought of someone looking down on me from above. Lying flat, I saw my chalk outline punctured with needles connected by shimmering green veins to my head. I was a combination of a graffiti drawing and a Frida self-portrait, but without the pain and without those incredible eyebrows. I don't mean to make light of the physical struggles Frida overcame. I was just pleasantly part of one of those free associations that come when you're totally relaxed and have let your mind flow where it will, reconnecting with all sorts of memories and personally recombining them for a lovely half hour.