Friday, October 16, 2009

Character of the Week: Devi!

Welcome to Come In Character, Devi. Please tell us about yourself...

Hello, everyone! My name is Devi Marconi. I was born in 1936 in Memphis, to a pious mother and a free-spirited father – a match I never understood. It was Dad – a lover of Indian culture – who named me Devi (Da-vey). When he died in World War II, my mother moved the family (including my brother, Seth, and my sister, Linda) to her hometown of Lexington, Kentucky – the land of bourbon and bluegrass.

From then on, I was a pretty miserable child – ignored by my siblings and emotionally abused by my mother. But life changed when I was thirteen, on a Thanksgiving trip to Mammoth Cave National Park.

While I longed to see the caves as my beloved father had described them, I ended up on the most boring tour imaginable. So, when I spotted a culvert beside the trail, I took my chance and escaped. At first, it was incredible – the blackest black I’d ever known – but it didn’t take long for me to become lost, hurt, and scared.

Attempting to reach the tour group, I fell down a shaft, where I would’ve died had a boy named Jesse Littleton not found me. Soon afterward, I awoke in the secret, subterranean village of Ruby Hollow. I spent six weeks down there, recuperating from my injuries, exploring the Hollow’s many intricate levels, and getting to know Jesse and the rest of the Hollowites. I learned to play the guitar, became an integral part of the community, and helped Jesse discover some underground hot springs. Though I felt at home, I eventually had to go back to my family.

Growing up, I longed to return. After high school, however, I followed my older brother down to New Orleans – for one last worldly experience before committing myself to a life underground. But, alas, I met a man named Patrick Marconi, and when I discovered that I was unexpectedly pregnant, I decided to marry him and stay in New Orleans. Though I cared for my husband, our three girls, and the charms of southern Louisiana, the Hollow was never far from my heart.

One day, I shared the legend of Ruby Hollow with my youngest daughter, Olivia. For years, she believed it to be a made-up bedtime tale... until she discovered a chest filled with love letters from Jesse. Realizing the Hollow was real, she confessed her find. Instead of being angry, though, I felt relieved.

After my estranged mother passed away, I asked Olivia to accompany me to Kentucky for the funeral. It gave me an excuse to introduce her to the Hollow. Seeing the woods above Mammoth Cave after all those years was a thrilling experience, and I knew that I had to stay. It wasn’t an easy decision: Although I knew my family would be all right without me, I was afraid of losing Olivia.

We’ve stayed in touch over the years, but it’s not the same. Of course, I’m happy that she’s found such a good man, even had children of her own, but I wish we weren’t so far apart. Still, I can’t imagine being anywhere but Ruby Hollow.

So, what’s the hardest decision you’ve ever had to make?


Aidan said...

To kill my mother.

Troubadour said...

When I died I resisted the pull of the light and stayed earthbound, waiting for my love to pass away so we could cross over together. It took strength and will power to stay, but then when she finally expired I could not cross over with her. My time had passed. That was almost 700 years ago, and I have been wandering the earth since then, trapped as a ghost.

Nevin said...

Hi, Devi! I don't understand why you'd want to live underground, but I know how hard it is to follow your heart.

Several centuries ago I was given the choice to give up human music or leave the glen. I chose to leave, and it's been very hard to live among humans. I've been lucky to meet other non-humans who also live among humankind, but I still miss my glen.

I would've missed music more.

Ricky said...

I was given an opportunity to get out of my contract to the band. It was an opportunity to return to a safer, more normal life, but I turned it down.

Once you've discovered that life is bigger, weirder, and more magical than you ever imagined, you can't really go back.

Devi Marconi said...

Oh, my, Aidan, that's a much harder decision than the one I had to make. Forgive my ignorance, but why did you feel the need to commit matricide?

Devi Marconi said...

That's terribly sad, Troubadour. Have you been searching for her ever since?

Devi Marconi said...

Hi, Nevin! It's good to see you again. You're always such a calming presence.

As for living underground, well, I suppose you could say it's a means to an end. I miss the sun, the forest, even New Orleans - and if I had a choice, I might not choose to live underground... but my heart does belong here, with Jesse and the rest.

The decision you had to make was equally as hard, I imagine. I, too, had to decide between giving up something I loved (Jesse and the Hollow) or leaving my family and my home in New Orleans. It wasn't easy, but as much as I miss Olivia, I would've missed the Hollow far more. And, really, I was miserable to live with. Just ask my daughter.

So I hope you don't regret your choice, Nevin. Sacrifice is never easy, but sometimes, you can't have all that you want. And all you can do is choose the thing (or person) you truly can't live without - otherwise, you'll be miserable. It sounds like music is that for you.

Devi Marconi said...

Oh, Ricky, I know exactly what you mean.

Although it might feel unsafe sometimes, living with your strange band of immortals, I imagine it's an incredible experience, too. As you say, once you've discovered the magical side of life (like the fact that there's a secret community in the bowels of Kentucky), it's hard to settle for normalcy. For me, life is ironically more magical in this autonomous commune than it would be in the big, bad world above.

Olivia Harper said...

Hi, Mom! Good to see you. Glad you feel comfortable revealing your strange story... hope the council members don't catch you, though. ;-)

P.S. Yes, you were rather miserable back then... glad you're happier now.

Marenya said...

I don't think that any of the decisions I have made were difficult at the time. It seemed obvious to me what to do.

The difficulty is in living with the consequences. Then I struggle with bitter regret.

Perhaps I decide unwisely. My head requires time to catch up with my heart.

Jason said...

Hi Devi,

Firstly, it's nice to meet you. Secondly, I apologize for my young cousin's malaise. It's not a good day - it's the anniversary of his father's death. Marc has taken him out on the boat for the day to get his mind off things.

To be clear, Aidan didn't end up killing his mum. He was set to, but a bullet beat his arrow.

She'd been possessed by the demon Maliquium. So truly, he was trying to kill Maliquium, not Aunt Nicole.

She would have died anyway, very soon, but Aidan's never seen it that way. To him, he let that arrow go. And I don't think he'll ever forgive himself for it.

His actions saved many lives that day, though.

I can't imagine living without the wind and the sun and the rain. Sentinel uses the underground as prisons, but it's thought Maliquium stays underground to keep out of Aidan's perception.

But then, if you have books, I'm certain that would help a great deal.

Devi Marconi said...

Hi, baby. Good to see you, too.

What the council members don't know won't hurt them. *wink*

Devi Marconi said...

I think that's true for all of us, Marenya. Often, our hearts decide first, and our heads have to deal with the consequences later.

Try not to regret, though. You do the best you can in the moment - and then you have to move on. Regret does no one (least of all you) any good.

Candy said...

Hi Devi,

I can't imagine living underground. Isn't it cold and dank? What light do you have and what do you eat? You must be very pale! I feel sorry for your husband and children, being left behind like that.

My biggest decision was when I left my boyfriend in London and flew to visit my Aunt in San Francisco. Of course I figured I'd get her to leave me her money; never expected her to jump off the ferry and leave me stranded.

Devi Marconi said...

Hi, Jason. It's nice to meet you, too.

No need to apologize for Aidan's mood. Death anniversaries are never the best of days - I have a few myself. I hope that he can find some enjoyment with Marc.

While I'm heartened to know that he didn't kill his mother, a demon possession changes things, I suppose. She wouldn't have been his mother - not really - and while he didn't pull the trigger, so to speak, I can understand his mixed emotions. Poor Aidan. What a burden to carry - he must let that go... and focus on the lives he's saved, not the ones he's taken. Of course, that's easier said than done.

P.S. While I do miss the sun and the elements, Ruby Hollow is an ever-fascinating place... and yes, we most certainly have books, as well as other diversions, such as music and art and dancing and food - lots and lots of food.

Devi Marconi said...

Hi, Candy!

Thanks for stopping by. Living in Ruby Hollow isn't quite the same as living underground elsewhere. We're not mole people. We actually have a fully-functioning town, with hydroelectric power, furnaces and fireplaces, even a worship sanctuary and a crematorium. So, no, it's not cold and dank. And some chambers are rather well-lit.

As for food, we have plenty of that here, too. We've figured out how to grow plants hydroponically, and we simulate UV light for our plants and livestock. We have so many cooks here that our cuisine is quite varied. For instance, my specialty is southern food - especially New Orleans dishes.

But, yes, I am a bit pale - and my eyes hurt whenever I'm able to visit the surface, which Hollowites are encouraged to do on occasion.

And,yes, I felt sorry for my family, too, but they were all better off without me. My husband remarried, and two of my girls have families of their own now. The only thing that haunts me is that my older daughters (the twins) believe I'm dead - when Olivia and my ex-husband know otherwise.

As for your decision to leave your boyfriend, that sounds pretty big, too. Was your boyfriend hurt? Or was it meant to be a temporary visit? And why exactly did your aunt jump off the ferry? Did she die? I must admit that I'm intrigued.

Alexander said...

Hello, Devi. The hardest decision I had to make was in the 1870s. I fell head over heels for a girl, and wanted to spend the rest of my life with her. But to do I knew Charles and I would drift apart, as he continued to run from Stefan. I didn't know what to do so I did nothing. Before I could make up my mind, the choice was made for me.

In many of your comments I see you mentioning a council. What council is it? And why would they be upset with you telling your story?

Devi Marconi said...

Hi, Alexander. Nice to meet you!

Sounds like yours was a difficult decision indeed. Hard to choose between a great love and a great friend. What happened to the young lady, if you don't mind my asking?

As for the council, well, Ruby Hollow has been in existence since 1857, when a young girl named Ruby Fitzgerald tried to escape a rainstorm by slipping into Mammoth Cave - along with her best friend, Will, and three slave children that they had saved from Ruby's family's plantation in Tennessee.

Over the years, the community slowly grew - and though Ruby remained mayor of the town until her death in 1939, a council was formed in the 19th century to help organize the town. Although Ruby Hollow is a very egalitarian society - where every adult's vote (14 years old and up) counts - it's helpful to have an eight-member council and mayor to settle disputes, prepare budgets and laws and the like.

Although this is a wonderful place to live - and an accepting town for all races, handicaps, classes, sexual orientations, etc. - there are strict rules, especially those relating to security. After all, a lot of people would be adversely affected if our secret location were discovered. So, the council (and the rest of the Hollowites) frown upon outsiders knowing too much about us. Even after thirty years, some folks are still miffed that I let Olivia escape the town, but though I wanted her to see this place for herself, I never had any intention of forcing her to stay. This is my salvation - not hers.

Nevin said...

Your mode of governance sounds very fair and thoughtful. It must be peaceful to live with such nice people. I wish other humans were so considerate. I'm often distressed by how people treat each other.

Devi Marconi said...

Me, too, Nevin. Which is another reason I was willing to sacrifice some things for a life underground. There's often too much sadness and violence and indifference in the surface world.

Indigo Cypress said...

I couldn't agree more, Devi.

Nutmeg Cross said...

Yeah, sounds like a place that would suit Indy and I well. We believe in working hard and treating others right. How can people join your society?

Devi Marconi said...

Well, to be frank, it's not easy. Through coded messages in newspapers throughout the world, people apply for membership, but it takes a lot to be approved - a demonstrated need or desire to leave behind the world above... and an obvious tolerance of others. Down here, we have mixed-race couples, gay ministers, influential females, so racists, bigots, and misogynists are not welcome. I know that sounds less than tolerant - but while we're open to many ways of life, we are intolerant of intolerance... if that makes any sense.

Potential members first pass the council's approval, before facing a vote of the entire congregation. And to keep population low, we only accept new families and individuals every four years... though that might change.

Nutmeg Cross said...

When's the next acceptance year?

Devi Marconi said...

Well, we accepted new members this year, so... 2013, I guess.

Nutmeg Cross said...

Perfect! I'll be twenty-one by then... it'll give me enough time to search for my mom and live a little - kinda like you did, Devi (except without the unexpected pregnancy). Ahem.

But then, I sure would miss seeing all the different landscapes that Indy and I have experienced together. I can see why it might be a hard decision... to let your whole past go.

Devi Marconi said...

No. It's never easy.

But you just have to concentrate on the moment. That's all we have, after all. The past is gone, the future is uncertain. The present is the only moment that matters.

Olivia Harper said...

Hi, Mom! There you go, waxing poetic again.

I'm kidding, of course. ;-)

Anyhoo, since you're answering questions today, Samantha wants to ask you something...

Devi Marconi said...

Sorry, I stepped away for a second. Dinner duty.

As to questions... ask away, Sam.

Samantha Harper said...

Hi, Grandma. Mom's told me a lot about Ruby Hollow, of course, but not everything. And I've been meaning to ask you about something...

I know you have a Yuletide Ball every year in the big ballroom on the fifth level. But however do you get the giant Christmas tree down the passageways?

Devi Marconi said...

Now, Sam, do you really think that a eco-friendly commune like ours would kill a giant tree every year and drag it below the earth? Not only would that be impossible, it would also be unethical... which is why we store the "fake" tree parts and reassemble them every Christmas.

Samantha Harper said...

Man, wish I could see that someday. Bet it's beautiful all lit up.

Devi Marconi said...

It is. I remember the first time I saw it... took my breath away. Literally.

Alexander said...

Hmm. I honestly don't know what happened to the young lady. After she found out what I am and what I've done, she refused to ever see me again. Assumably she found another man, got married and had kids.

I like the way Ruby Hollow sounds. Intolerant of intolerance. Wish things would run that way everywhere.

Devi Marconi said...

Me, too, Alexander.

But then, I guess Ruby Hollow wouldn't be such a special place for those of us who live there.

Incidentally, I'm sorry that things didn't work out for you and your lady friend.

Amy Thompson said...

Thank you Olivia, for the beautiful post. Though I missed commenting on the home town post, I see you have captured my own home-town feelings perfectly.

As your mother did, I too uprooted my children - well, my daughter Cathy, as my son refused - and moved to a new town in hopes of a fresh start. Although I am not a drug addict or alcoholic myself, I’ve been around the culture long enough to know that a geographical move does not solve all one’s problems. A person tends to pack the issues in the baggage they carry on to the next location.

I was fortunate to connect with a member of my family - my estranged brother - who gave me refuge to heal, but never let me forget where I came from; and sooner rather than later, I went home. Your journey seems much like my own - though yours was metaphysical, mine emotional. But, we traveled the same rough terrain.

THEY say you can never go home. But home is where your heart lives, and though the terrain may change, the geography of the heart remembers every hill, gully and meadow. Especially the meadows; with the sunshine, and the flower, and the love we barely acknowledged in the crisis of the moment.

Home is more than a time and place; it is a fixture in our deepest hearts.

Leaving my home, and my son, behind for a new beginning was the hardest decision I ever had to make. It was the right decision, despite the heartache, the risk. Returning to those dark memories was equally hard, but I never would have been able to face my past and make peace with my future if I’d not taken the opportunity to escape the present. Sometime, the hardest decisions are the best decisions. Sometimes, being brave is in experiencing something new, so we can appreciate the gift of home.

Thank you for sharing such intimacy with us, in this place and time.

Amy Thompson said...

I am so sorry Devi. I posted this comment as if it were to Olivia, because your love for her was so strong she was the last thought on my mind when I answered. And, I couldn't find a delete button to repost to you.

I really hope you don't take offense that I got the names confused. See what happens when I get so intimate; it's so out of character for me.

And, I'm embarrassed beyond measure that I got the name wrong.

Christine H said...

Devi, it's your turn to pick next week's character. Whom will it be?

Devi Marconi said...

No worries, Amy. Olivia and I are very similar, despite our distance and different backgrounds. We both believe that home is a special place - one that can be created wherever your heart is.

Thank YOU for the intimacy you've shared with us. I, too, wrestle with regret sometimes, but I know that we must sometimes make hard decisions to save our inner selves. It's never easy, though - so, I'm proud of you for doing what you had to - for yourself. Others might think it selfish to abandon one's children, but sometimes, staying does them more harm than good.

Devi Marconi said...

Christine - I'd be very interested in learning more about Amy Thompson. She seems like a pretty interesting, sympathetic person.

Should I contact her author directly?

Amy Thompson said...

Thanks for the vote of support Devi. I'm not sure how all this works, but it is flattering.

My author is intrigued also.

Devi Marconi said...

Hi, Amy!

It's not so tough, honest. Basically, you just have to tell the CIC community a little bit about yourself. Your childhood, your family, your present situation, whatever you'd like to share. A relevant photo (or more) helps, too. And you should include a question at the end - something that relates to your life... like mine did ("So, what’s the hardest decision you’ve ever had to make?").

If you're still not certain what to do, feel free to contact Laura or Christine directly. They're both very helpful!

Can't wait to learn more about you!

Christine H said...

Dear Amy,
Please have your author contact me at to discuss your special day!
Thank you for agreeing to be our Character of the Week.

Amy Thompson said...

She sent an e-mail to both you and Laura and awaits a reply.

Devi Marconi said...

My author never received a message from yours, Amy, but not to worry. Christine's in charge of COTW anyhow. Have fun!

Devi Marconi said...

Scratch what I said earlier, Amy. My author's hubby installed McAfee on her laptop, and somehow your author's email got lost in the shuffle... but it's since been found. So, she wanted me to tell your author thanks - and sorry for the confusion. ;-)

Donna Hole said...

It's all good. We talked to Christine and everythings worked out.

Thanks for getting back to us though.