Wednesday, March 11, 2015

New Branches from Old Roots

Continued from Life is so complex here!

The oldest girl asked her mom in Low German, “Who is that?”

Her mom whispered something in her ear. She knew exactly who I was and told the girl to sit down but not too close to that long-haired schwein noagel (pig nail). This term was often used to describe men that didn’t groom on a regular basis or anyone that had a distinct look to them.

That made me really angry because I knew how incredibly rude and disrespectful that was, but I couldn’t do anything about it.

George looked at them, then turned to me with a raised eyebrow and smiled. I felt so guilty for having those same thoughts the first time I saw him.

My favorite nurse came and called my name. I got up and looked at George and he said, “Good luck. I’ll wait here for you.”

I followed the nurse to the same room I had been in a few times before; it was getting to be so familiar.

We sat down and she told me about the tests she had done. “Anna, you just need to eat more, sleep better and not be alone too much.” She gave me Canada’s Food Guide and an address to a food bank and said, “Go get yourself some food and start eating.” 

I was relieved and happy to learn that was all that was wrong with me.

She said, “I think if you would go to school and learn how to read, it would help you understand what is happening to you and your nerve problems and all. The schools here in Canada are very different. I think you would like it. You should just give it a try.”

“I know the principal at that school and I have already told her about you. She is excited to meet you. She will help you get started. I think you would like her.”

That was starting to sound really tempting, especially after the conversation I had had with George earlier.

The nurse continued, “How about I tell her you will come on Tuesday morning to get started?”

I thought, “Alright, I will give it a try,” and told the nurse that I would go. I got up, grabbed all the papers she gave me and thanked her.

She hugged me and said, “Good luck and take care of yourself. Call me if you need to talk to someone.”

I felt so good after talking to that nurse. She made me feel like I was so important. I felt that I just might be okay. Each time I visited her, that feeling I had, that this world would be better off without me, disappeared a little further. I thought, “If she thinks I can figure this out by going to school, I have to at least give it a try.” 

I walked through the door with a big smile until I saw the Low German lady and reality wiped that smile right off my face. George got up and followed me out the door and there was the big white van parked right at the front door and that lady’s husband was sitting in the van smoking.

He was staring at us as we got into the car. I put my hands on the wheel and let out a frustrating sigh.

“Who are those people?” George asked.

I explained whose cousins they were and that they knew my family.

“Why isn’t he in there helping his wife with all those kids?” George asked.

Marco Antonio Solis

I tried to explain it to him but he got all confused, lost interest, started looking through the tapes and put one of Los Bukis into the tape player.

I loved that tape ever since I first saw Marco Antonio Solis, the lead singer of the group, on the cover of the tape box. I thought that he was Jesus and he had the most beautiful voice I had ever heard.

I gave George the piece of paper with the address to the food bank and asked if he knew where it was. I told him that the nurse had said to go get some food.

He said, “Sure, let’s go.”

The song Quiereme started playing as I drove off and George smiled and waved at the Low German man in the white van as we passed him. The man looked away quickly and shook his head.

I drove to the food bank and George came in with me and helped me pick out some food. I picked some bread, flour, canned beans and ham. George carried it out to the car for me and, on the way back to the apartment, he said, “I don’t mean to be so nosy and you don’t have to tell me the details if you don’t want to but I am curious. Are you going to be okay?”

While he carried the box of food up the stairs for me, I told him what the nurse said and that I was starting school on Tuesday. He was very happy for me and said, “That nurse deserves an award for the work she does. She has a way of caring for people like no other.”

The nurse knew right away that there was no medicine for what I needed. I just needed to hear what she told me and, because she made that first connection with the school, that made it a bit less frightening for me to take the next step.

I gave George his keys back and he said, “No, no, you can keep them in case you want to watch movies sometime again. If it’s not during work hours just make sure you knock before you walk in because I might be giving someone a tattoo sometime after work or on weekends. You can come and watch me sometime if you like.”

“Maybe I will,” I said.

“Don’t forget to eat again,” he said.

“I will have a canned ham sandwich, okay?” I replied.

George added, “Oh, and one more thing before I go, if Mark doesn’t leave you alone, just tell him you have a new boyfriend and he doesn’t like it when other guys call or visit you. What you do is none of his business.”

“Okay,” I answered.

I started unpacking the food and then I remembered I still hadn’t opened the box of stuff my mom sent me from Mexico.

I opened it. I wasn’t surprised to find brightly flowered fabric for a dress, matching thread to sew the dress, a pair of knee length grey socks, a box of Carlos V chocolates, a songbook, and my first tea towel that I had hand-embroidered when I was eleven.

I sat down on the floor and shed a few tears while I ate a chocolate bar and remembered my family. I thought of ways I could convince my mom to be okay with me not wearing those dresses anymore. 

My phone rang and I thought, “Perfect, I am going to tell Mark that I have a boyfriend!”

My hands were shaking when I picked up the phone but, before I could say hello, I heard a lot of static in the background and my heart skipped a beat when I heard my mom’s voice say, “As dit Onn?” (Is this Anna?)

 “Jo dit as” (Yes, it is.) I answered

“Are you sick? The Brauns saw you at a Doctor’s office with an awful looking man. Who was that? Why was he with you? Why are you spending time with a schwein noagel like that? Why didn’t you just come home with Izaak?” she questioned.

All I could think of was, “ha le dietschjat!” (I was right. I knew this would happen.)

When she finally let me talk, I said thank you for the gifts and tried to explain everything to her but it just made it worse. Especially when I told her that I was starting school on Tuesday. She started crying and begged me to come home.

 The dishcloth in this picture is one
of the first ones I hand embroidered  

I had already cried before she called, so I was keeping it together pretty good while trying to convince her that I was doing okay, and that I believed that I was on the right track to figuring out my nerve problems.

She said, “What happened to you? Did I hear you right? You said you want to go to school? Have you forgotten about what school was like for you?”

“No, mom, I haven’t forgotten and I don’t think I ever will but I just want to try it here. Maybe it will be better,” I told her.

“Do you like the fabric I sent with Izaak?” she asked.

I told her I would make it as soon as I had enough money to buy a sewing machine.  

“Okay then, and we have to go now and don’t forget to answer my letters, okay?”

“Okay mom, I will do my best.” I answered and she hung up the phone.

I just sat there for a while. I felt like I had just been slapped around by the people that are supposed to love me. I didn’t even have a chance to start convincing her like I had planned in my thoughts earlier. The way people were keeping an eye on me, I couldn’t keep any secrets from my mom.

I felt like screaming and jumping out of my skin after that but, instead, I just started breathing like George told me to do every time something was happening that made me anxious. I couldn’t even count how many times I felt happy, guilty, trapped, and sad all at the same time in that one day.

After talking to my mom I lost my appetite for a canned ham sandwich and I was having second thoughts about starting school. She reminded me that I was a hard learner and I would have a terrible time at school and why would I put myself through that agony again.

I thought, “I have to at least go and meet that nurse’s friend because I told her I would and I will.”

While I was trying to go to sleep, I just lay in bed dreaming about how I would dress if I didn’t have to worry about people watching my every move. Since I had a bit of money, I decided that I would go shopping the next day. 

On Saturday I was going to clean and bake. I needed Pine Sol and Häw (yeast) but I had no idea what Häw was called in English.

I thought, “Maybe George could help me but how would I explain it to him? The stuff that makes the buns grow bigger? Oh, man, he won’t get what I’m trying to say. Nope, I’m not asking George. I will ask someone at the store instead.” Click here to continue reading my story.

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