Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Where Do I Belong?

Continued from Fashion Faux Pas

As I put in the next batch of tweeback, I was thinking of what to say to George but I couldn’t come up with anything.

“Thank you for the delicious food, Anna,” he said and slowly walked out the door, hunched over with his face hidden behind his hair.

I just stood there for a moment, speechless, while attempting to process what exactly had just happened. I went to the door and looked through the peephole to see if he was gone. I turned around, leaned against the door, slid down to the floor, and laughed my face off.

I thought, “ha le dietschjat!  Oh crap! This is a f#kcing unjarock!” (Underdress) and quickly reminded myself to never ever talk like George did, or at least not out loud.

I had seen women wearing dresses that looked very similar to this one in a magazine so I wondered, “How the heck am I supposed to know? This is not going to be as easy as I thought.”

I banged my head against the door a few times in reaction to my embarrassment and thought, “Well, I have a choice to make again. I can stay sitting here and shame myself to death so I will never see George again or I can get up and get on with my day.”

I got up and straightened my beautiful purple unjarock. I walked to my bedroom, took it off, and put my floral Mennonite dress back on. While I placed the unjarock neatly on a hanger and hung it in my closet, I wondered if something like this could have ever happened to someone else before me but I concluded, “I wouldn’t be surprised if this was a first.”

It was early afternoon when I finished baking and I decided to go for a walk around the block. When I came back, George was carrying his garbage out. I was still far away from him but I could see his perfect white teeth smiling again. He walked to the entrance door and leaned against the wall with his left leg bent and his hands in his pockets, waiting for me.

I turned red like a tomato just thinking about my dress and thought, “Ahh … I don’t want to face him already. It’s too soon. I’m not ready for this.” But I couldn’t do anything about it. It was over, he was there, and that was the only door to get back inside. I had no choice but to face and look at him.

As I got closer he tilted his head sideways with one eyebrow raised and asked, “You changed?”

I sat down on a rock that was next to the door and said, “Yep. You know, George, that dress is way too fancy to wear on a weekday anyway. I have decided I will only wear it on Sundays.”

He pulled his hands out of his pockets, pushed himself off the wall, pulled his hair back, and laughed as he walked toward me and sat down beside me. I covered my face with my hands, laughed, and shook my head with embarrassment. We just sat there for a while and laughed.

“Hey, what are you doing tomorrow afternoon,” he asked.

“Not much,” I replied.

“Do you remember Felicity who works at the factory? You know the one who called you a schmuck,” he asked.

“Yes, how could I forget her,” I answered.

“She is bringing her friend over to get a tattoo. Would you like to come over and watch? Felicity asked about you the other day and said she would love to see you. They are coming around two o’clock,” he said.

I thought, “Tomorrow is Saturday, my cleaning day, but I should be done by then and I have been curious to see how tattooing works.”

“Maybe I will,” I told him.

Saturday morning I did a load of laundry and washed my jeans and the top that I bought. I cleaned everything in my apartment with Pine-Sol and by ten o’clock I was done. I thought, “What am I going to do until two?”

I played around with different hairstyles and decided to just leave it as the hanging down look. I put my jeans and the silver top on. I thought, “Nobody will see me that might tell someone who will tell my mom so I should be safe to wear this to George’s.”

When two o’clock finally came, I walked over to George’s. He opened the door and said, “Wow, you look … wow, ahh … different. You’re wearing jeans.”

I walked in and said, “Are these really jeans, George?”

He tilted his head so his hair covered his face and quietly said “Yes! Yes, Anna, those are jeans,” and we both laughed.

No one was there yet so, as he was getting the ink ready, I asked if I could see some drawings he did himself.

“Yeah, absolutely.”

As I looked through the binders there was a knock at the door and Felicity came in. She walked straight to me and gave me a big hug. She said, “Wow, have you ever gotten skinny.”

She introduced me to her friend Sam who was getting the tattoo. She had really short spiky blond hair and a few tattoos on her arms.

I smiled awkwardly and said, “Hello.”

I continued looking through the binders of tattoos and Felicity asked, “Which one would you like, Anna?”

“Oh, I’m not sure,” I said.

Then she walked closer to George and asked, “Would you give Anna a tattoo if she wanted one?”

“Hell no! Absolutely not,” he said.

“Why not,” Felicity asked.

“Well, first she has to figure out who she is before she could pick one that would suit her.”

I thought, “What? I know exactly who I am. How stupid does he think I am?”

That made me mad. I got up and said, “You think I don’t know who I am? Well, let me tell you who I am! I’m Anna Wall from the Mennonite colonies of Nuevo Ideal, Durango, Mexico!”

No one said anything as they all looked at each other for a moment. Then Felicity said, “Oh, honey, that is your name and where you are from, not who you are.”  
I thought, “Okay, first she calls me a schmuck, next she hugs me and calls me honey, and then she tells me I’m not who I think I am. Who are these people? They don’t make any sense at all.”

“Okay, Anna, don’t worry about that right now. You will figure it out and when you do then maybe five years after that if you want a tattoo, I will give you one,” George said.

Then Bree walked through the door and said, “Hey everybody, what’s going on?”

“George won’t give Anna a tattoo until about five years from now,” Sam said.

“How old are you, Anna,” Bree asked.

“Ahhh,  I’m nineteen but I will turn twenty next month on the thirteenth,” I said.

“No freaking shit,” Bree replied.

George came into the living room to check why Bree was freaking out.

“George, did you know that Anna’s birthday is on Friday the thirteenth and she is turning twenty?” Bree asked.

“What? No freaking way,” he said.

“Oh man, George, you have to take her for a ride on your Harley on her birthday,” Felicity said.

George was just about to say something but then I said, “Okay, aren’t you going to give Sam a tattoo? I’m really curious to see how you do this.”

“Sure, Anna,” he said.

I stood there and watched as Sam got on the chair and he began the tattoo.

“Doesn’t that hurt?” I asked.

 “Yes, but it is worth it!” She said.

Felicity wanted to know how and why I lost so much weight since I got laid off. I tried to explain it to her and she said, “Yeah if I were in your situation I would probably lose weight too. I’m on this new diet and I’m not losing any weight at all. I’m so jealous of you.”

“Most people I have met have never seen my face. Everyone just stares at my breasts, especially men. Whenever I talk to a man and he asks me, ‘How are you,’ I just say, ‘They are fine, thanks.’”

I turned all red and didn’t know where to turn my face so they wouldn’t notice. I couldn’t believe that she talked about her lady parts like that.

I didn’t know half of the actual names of my body parts. We were not even allowed to say pizza. We had to say fleeschpei instead because it sounded too close to a word that described a man’s body part that we were not supposed to know how to say, let alone say it out loud.

Felicity and Sam left and the mood suddenly changed. I could tell Bree was still mad at George. There was something going on between them. I got a weird and uncomfortable feeling and decided that it was time to go home.

George wanted me to stay longer but I told him that my mom might call me so I should be close by my phone just in case.

When I got home, I put on my Marco Antonio Solis tape and lay down on the floor beside my flowered love seat. I closed my eyes and thought about everything that was said at George’s apartment. I figured out that George’s Harley was not a woman and that it was, in fact, a motorcycle.

Felicity had suggested that George take me for a motorcycle ride on my birthday but I had interrupted so he didn’t have a chance to answer her. I didn’t like that she put him on the spot like that. I couldn’t figure out why they all made such a big deal out of my birthday and that it was on Friday the thirteenth.

I thought about how different everyone was and how I felt like I didn’t belong there. Just as I felt like I never really belonged in my colony in Mexico either. I thought, “How am I ever going to figure out where I belong?”

This photo was taken at the mountains behind my colony in Suersos

Birthdays back home were not a big deal no matter what day they were on. This birthday was a big deal for me, though. I had stopped going to school when I was ten years old and thought I had put that all behind me. But soon I would be turning twenty and in a few days, I was going back to school and starting it all over again.

I felt really sad about that and that knot that I had in my stomach that kept me from eating was creeping its way back in there again.

I thought, “I have lived for nineteen years and now I’m starting from the bottom again. How many years is it going to take me to learn how to read and write while I convince my family that this is for my own good?”

As scary as the idea of going to school was for me, it had already shifted my thinking from, “How many years until this agony will be over,” to “How many years is it going to take me to learn how to read and write?” I decided to take that as a good sign. Click here to continue reading my story.

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