Friday, June 19, 2015

Once upon a time in Posen Land

Continued from Forbidden Mennonite

“What is a stalker anyway?” I asked.

“A stalker is a person who just won’t leave you alone even after you tell them that you are not interested. Mark is definitely stalking you, Anna. You could call the police, you know because that is actually against the law here in Canada.”

“Really? I don’t even have the phone number for the police and I have never even talked to a police officer before. What if they find out that I lied to him and put me in jail?”

Bree laughed and said, “Oh no, Anna, if everyone who lied was put in jail there wouldn’t be a jail big enough. But I don’t think you have anything to worry about. I think he will get over it and move on to the next person.”

“I sure wish he would.”

Bree went back to work and I drove home thinking about the day I had. I couldn’t believe George and Bree were both jealous of me. George was jealous that Bree got to work with me and Bree was jealous of me being a Mennonite, that I had a stalker, and that George liked me.

Bree had been weird with me from the first time I met her. I always thought that that was just how she was, but every once in awhile I felt that she didn’t really like me. Especially when she purposely embarrassed me every chance she got. She rolled her eyes at me so much I was surprised that they hadn’t fallen out yet.

But then she would turn around and be so nice to me, like the time she invited me to sit with her and have coffee at a coffee shop where we talked about how we both wanted to die and she told me that I was too young to be thinking about dying.

She brought me Taco Bell and introduce me to the beautiful music of Enigma. She brought me bags of her sisters’ really nice clothes. I wondered, “Did she do all that just to keep an eye on me and George?”

I got goosebumps all over as I thought, “This could get way too dangerous for me if I’m not careful. But as long as George stays my imaginary boyfriend and my real friend, I should be alright in this triangle that I got myself into.”

I felt so depressed and disappointed that I couldn’t even finish working my second shift after being called back to the job that I wanted back so badly. I decided to try and put all those thoughts away for a while and do some homework and get lots of sleep so I could handle the next day better.

I managed to do a big chunk of my homework and as I was getting ready to go to bed, my phone rang. It was my mom. She had heard that I was at the hospital and she wanted to know if it was true that I was pregnant. She had heard many rumors about me “riding around” with a schwee nagel on a motorcycle.

I got so mad I wanted to yell at her, “GRRR…HIS NAME IS NOT SCHWEIN NOAGEL, HIS NAME IS GEORGE AND HE IS A GOOD PERSON, HE IS MY FRIEND, HE HAS DONE NOTHING WRONG and MOM I will not be another story about eating a rabüs sot (watermelon seed). I will be a story about finishing school after being labeled a hard learner.”

Instead, I just took some deep breaths knowing that I couldn’t say any of that to her. There was no point.

It was really hard to talk because there was a five-second delay between me talking and her answering. We spent more than half the time saying, “What were you going to say?” and “Sorry, go ahead.” It was so frustrating.

I explained that I was not pregnant, that I had fainted at work because I hadn’t been eating and I was fine. “I’m sorry that this is so hard for you mom, I am not doing anything wrong. The rumors that are going around are not true. George is not a schwein noagel, he is a good friend.”

As I was listening to myself talking I knew that she was not hearing it the way that I meant what I said. I realized that it was me against fifty-two villages which made up an entire Mennonite colony and every person that lived there. That would be about six thousand and five hundred people or so, and I knew that I didn’t stand a chance.

People loved this kind of gossip, especially when it wasn’t their family member that was being gossiped about. I remembered the unbelievable stories we heard about the Low German Mennonite people that lived in Canada all year and the sinful things they learned in the public schools.

I listened to her cry and beg me to come back home for a good ten minutes. I asked how all my siblings were doing and how things were at home. She couldn’t find the right words to tell me about that.

When the phone call finally ended I felt even more depressed and disappointed. I had a nasty headache again. I took some Tylenol and remembered the nurse that gave them to me. I missed her so much I felt like calling her because I felt that knot working its way back into my stomach.

I felt like I was drowning again and I didn’t know how to stop it. I thought, “Why do I feel like this when my biggest dream came true? For so long, all I wanted was for Hilary to call me, and he did.” I reminded myself, “Remember, Anna? Hilary finally called you, so be freaking happy.’”

That didn’t work. I just went to bed and said my bedtime prayer five times to try and steer my thinking in a different direction. I closed my eyes and all I could think was the man nurse at the hospital, the Brauns, Bree, Hilary, and Mom, and realized that this had been a really long day.

I imagined I lived in a world where my Dietscha (Low German) people released me from what they thought I should be. I imagined them smiling and saying hello to me instead of giving me the death stare. Or even better, that none of the Low German people knew me and I could just be Anna who was figuring out her life on her own terms.

“Okay, yeah, that will never happen,” I thought, and just dreamed my way back to that boat with George and him telling me to breathe as we drifted away from Canada all the way to a place called Posen Land.

It was really foggy and I could see a light at the shore of Posen Land in the far distance. The air smelled like the smoke from the oil-burning lantern that hung from the boat and petunias mixed with the smell of geranium leaves.

George said, “How does it feel to be this close to a place you have been on the way to for so many years, Anna? In Posen Land, you don’t have to be so paranoid about who might see you. I am the only person here who knows you.”

“That would only happen in a dream, George.”

“Then just enjoy the dream while it lasts, Anna. Just focus on where you want to go and go there instead of looking for someone or something to ruin it. As long as you keep looking for it, you will find it. The only way it can stop is when you stop looking.”

I looked to my right as the wind blew the fog from the light we were drifting closer to. A man appeared, dressed in an Old Colony Minister style black suit, with knee-high black leather boots and a plain all-black cap. A familiar voice echoed through the fog: “Anna, what are you doing all the way out here?” in Low German.

I recognized the voice -- it was my fula’s voice (that is what we called our grandpa who committed suicide when I was seven). He was the man dressed as an Old Colony minister, even though he had never been one in his life in Mexico. I looked really hard to see his face, but the heavy fog blew back toward him until I couldn’t see him anymore. I cried out to him, “Please, fula, don’t leave me! FULAAA…”

I woke up to the sound of my own voice yelling “FULA PLEASE DON’T LEAVE ME…” and my pillow had wet spot from my tears. I missed him so much, and there were so many unanswered questions I wanted to ask him.

I felt so sad thinking about him and wondering again what had gone on in his head and wishing he was here to help me figure all this out.

I remembered that I had had many dreams about drifting on that boat to Posen Land. Our dad often told us, kids, when it was time to go to sleep that we were going to Posen Land. I always wondered if this place was real or if he had just made it up.

Part of me was so disappointed that I hadn’t listened to George and just enjoyed the dream.

I lay there wondering if this place called Posen Land was real and like I imagined it. I imagined on the other side of that heavy fog was a place of the sunrise after a downpour, birds chirping, flowers blooming everywhere and my fula welcoming me with a hug.

I imagined that in Posen Land everyone smiled and said hello to me, even when I would wear my favorite brown pleated dress with yellow tulips on it. In Posen Land, it wouldn’t matter what I was Diech, Low German, Mennonite, Mexican, Russian, or Canadian, and I was just Anna. Anna, who loved her family as they were, and was friends with George as he was. And that was okay.

I pulled my thoughts out of the dream and got back to reality. Physically, I was feeling good so I decided to get ready and go to school and work. I knew I was better off there than sitting at home worrying about all the things I couldn’t do anything about anyway.

I packed myself enough food for the day and thought to myself, “From now on, no matter what happens to me, I am going to eat. And I will figure this out, whatever it is.” Click here to continue reading my story.

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