It was New Year’s Eve 2009. Marika and Graham had met five months earlier and as Graham picked her up at the Akron airport, the car was packed for a 3,700+ mile road trip – destination MARFA.
Marika and Graham met at the Aspen Ideas Festival in July 2009. She was a scholar, having been selected for her work on the Butaro Hospital in Rwanda. Graham was the “hired help,” producing aspects of the Ideas Festival. The last day of the Festival, they met when she was talking to the scholars coordinator and Graham was walking by. He wasn’t going to pass up the opportunity to say hello to a beautiful woman whom he hadn’t yet met. He approached the pair, and that interaction led to an evening of conversation and “bear hunting”- they didn’t see any bears, but a coyote did steal their hot dogs.
One of the topics during the hours of conversation the night they met was Marfa. Both Marika and Graham had heard about it and seen the iconic shot of the Prada store in the desert. So in the burgeoning months of their relationship they decided to set off on an odyssey to Marfa to see the place for themselves.
They rung in 2010 in Nashville, Tennessee, watching the guitar drop. They made their way through Graceland in Memphis, and slept in Bessie Smith’s old room in Clarksdale, Mississippi. They dined at Galatoire’s in New Orleans during a snow storm, went to mission control in Houston, and ate more barbecue than they thought possible.
They arrived in Marfa after a week on the road and a near-miss of being stranded in the desert, and settled into the Thunderbird Motel. They bundled up and explored the Chinati and ate at the Food Shark. The weather was frigid but they immediately understood that this was a special place with a special energy.
After that trip, they felt like Marfa became “theirs.” It was a place they went to celebrate the beginning of their relationship, so it’s a fitting place to celebrate the beginning of their life together. And of course, it’s a great place for a little adventure.