Tolula

Heaven on Earth Logo

Tolula

Tolula

A feature film in development by Kikelomo Adedeji and Jake Jensen
Adapted from the solo play, Tolula, by Kikelomo Adedeji
Play script available

It’s 2002. Meredith, a middle-aged failed artist quits her secretarial job in San Francisco, packs up her life, and drives three days to Tolula, New Mexico, population 298, to move in with her gay best friend, James. Awaiting her is a trip to “real” Mexico, heartbreak, desperation, and a Star Trek-addicted medicine woman.

Meredith is 49, smart, lonely, and stuck. 20 years ago, right out of grad school, she was a successful New York artist with exhibitions and sales. But she caved in to the pressure, destroyed her canvases, spent 72 hours in the psych ward, and after her gallery owner/boyfriend sued her for lost revenues, was left with nothing. She closed up tight as a seashell, fled to San Francisco, became a secretary, and never picked up a paint brush again.

In San Francisco, for the last big bunch of years, her best friend has been James, 55 - fun, impulsive, gay, and a nurse. They worked at the same hospital medical center for a dozen years. Friday night martinis, old classic movies at the Castro Theatre, and badly sung show tunes are their shared world until James decides to leave it all, become a shamanic astrologer, and move to Tolula, New Mexico, population 298. That’s where our story begins.

With James gone, Meredith takes a Spanish class and happens to meet a much-younger Mexican man Rafi, 29, who works at a panaderia. She just wants to practice her Spanish and is wary of his advances - the age difference alone... But his tranquility, their mutual love of dancing, and his sincerity are too much for her to resist and they become lovers. Three months later, Rafi’s mother becomes seriously ill and he returns to his family back in Mexico.

Once again Meredith feels abandoned and so she succumbs to James’ weekly Martini-fueled phone call entreaties to come live with him in Tolula. “They’ll love you! And I need help paying the rent.” She figures there is nothing left for her in San Francisco, assumes she can find a job in New Mexico, and packs up and drives to Tolula. A week later she is on a plane to Mexico to visit Rafi and his family for 10 days.

Once in Mexico, Meredith falls in love with Rafi all over again. But his family needs money and so he is going to cross the border once again and return to San Francisco where there is a job waiting. Disappointed that Rafi doesn’t want to come to New Mexico with her, Meredith returns to Tolula waiting for word that he has arrived safely in San Francisco. As the days and weeks limp by, she hears nothing and fears that he has died in the Sonoran desert. She looks endlessly for a job and in the meantime, James buys a tiny house so she has to move. She finds a cheap apartment in Santa Fe where her neighbors are all Mexicans. As winter approaches and her savings dwindle, she starts to have nightmares about Rafi, and starts to spiral downward.

 But there is always hope. Meredith meets an ex-con, a Cherokee medicine woman, a German ornamental horticulturist, an 82-year old salsera, and a much-changed Rafi before finding her way to a new place of acceptance inside herself.