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 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. At that moment I felt so much guilt for having those same thoughts about George the first time I saw him.

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

I followed the nurse to the same room I had been in a few times before. 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 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, 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 a few minutes earlier.

The nurse continued, “How about I tell her that you will go and meet her on Tuesday morning?”

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 her. She made me feel like I was important. I felt that I just might be okay. Each time I visited her, my depressing thoughts disappeared a little further. “If she thinks I can figure this out by going to school, I have to at least give it a try,” I thought.

I walked through the door with a big smile on my face until I saw the Low German lady. My reality wiped the smile right off my face. George got up and followed me out the door, we walked past the big white van parked in front of the front door and saw that lady’s husband sitting in the van smoking while he was waiting.

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 who the family was and that they knew my family.

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

I tried to explain it to him but he got all confused and lost interest. He started looking through the tapes in the glove compartment and randomly picked one of Los Bukis and put it 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 handed George the piece of paper with the address to the food bank on it and asked if he knew where it was. I told him that the nurse had said to go get some food.

“Sure, let’s go,” he said.

The song Quiereme started playing as I drove off. 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 at the sight of us.

At the food bank, 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. “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?” George asked as I drove back to the apartment.

I explained what the nurse told me and that I had agreed to start school on Tuesday. 

“Anna, that's awesome! I'm so happy for you. That nurse deserves an award for the work she does. She has a way of caring for people like no other.”

Thanks, the nurse knew right away that there was no medication for what I needed. She told me exactly what you have been telling all along. I just didn't want it to be true. It's just so different from how I grew up. But everything is different and I am going to have to get used to it if I want to continue to live outside of the Mennonite colony in Mexico.

“Anna, you are so wise to recognize that.

“I guess I just needed to hear it from a few people before I realized that you were right all along. She went ahead and called the school to tell them about me, that's what made all the difference and a bit less frightening for me to take that first step,” I explained.

“I'm so proud of you! he replied.

I turned red like a tomato because I wasn't used to that kind of support, especially from a man. After the awkward moment passed I turned to him and said, Thank you,” He just smiled. 

I parked the car at the apartment and handed George his keys back. 

“No, no, you can keep them in case you want to watch movies at my place again sometime. 

“Are you sure?” I asked.

“Yes, I want you to keep them. I mean just keep in mind my work hours because I might be giving someone a tattoo sometimes after work or on weekends. Just so you know, but feel free to come and watch me sometime if you like.”

“Okay, maybe I will.” 

“Don’t forget to eat again,” he reminded me on our way up the stairs.

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

“Oh, and one more thing before I go, if Mark doesn’t leave you alone, just tell him that you have a new boyfriend and he doesn’t like it when other guys call or visit you. I think that will take care of that. He needs to stop being so nosy. What you do is none of his business,” George added.

“Okay, thanks for everything,” I answered.

“You're welcome sweetie, have a good night. 

“You too,” I replied.

As I unpacked and placed the food into the cupboards, I remembered I still hadn’t opened the box of stuff my mom had sent me from Mexico.

I dropped what I was doing and 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 had a few tears while I ate a chocolate bar and remembered my family. I thought of ways I could convince my mother to be okay with me not wearing those dresses anymore. 

My phone rang and I thought, “Perfect, timing, I am going to tell Mark that I have a boyfriend so he will finally leave me alone.”

My hands were shaking when I picked up the phone and before I could say hello, I heard a lot of static in the background. My heart stopped 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?  she asked.


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! (Holy crap!) 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 back 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. 

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 explained.

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

I told her I did and that I would make the dress as soon as I had enough money to buy a sewing machine.  

“Okay then, 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 were 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.

After talking to my mom I lost my appetite for a canned ham sandwich and I was beginning to have 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 at the school because I told her I would.”

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? I need 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, and concluded that I would ask someone at the grocery store instead.” Click here to continue reading my story.

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