Thursday, January 7, 2016

The girl from the Mennonite colonies of the Mexican desert

Continued from Mennonite confusion

Susie laughed and said, “Well, that would be alright with me.”

Her answer brought tears to my eyes which I successfully managed to hide from her. Part of me just wanted to know that she accepted me as I was because no one else in my family did. I felt relieved to know that I had at least one family member who wouldn’t tell me to stop having thoughts about something just because we didn’t understand it.

Part of me was disappointed to realize that this wouldn’t explain my nerve problems. On the ride home from Sins, I asked Christina how a person would know if they were gay.

“This would be a question you could ask Josh, but I will tell you how I think a person would know. I think one way a person would know is how attracted they are to someone of the same sex. For example… Is it okay if I use you as an example?” 

I giggled because she said the word sex as I would say the word schaublen (beans). Without a hint of awkwardness or hesitation. I was a bit worried about where the conversation was headed as I said, “Sure.”

“Okay, so you know how you feel when you are around George, especially when he winks at you?”

I felt the butterflies waking up in my stomach as she described how I felt when I was around George as I answered, “Ah… yes.”

“I know because I have seen the way you blush when he does that. That is one way you know you are attracted to someone. The way I understand it, that is part of the way a person would know that they are gay -- when they feel like that toward someone of the same sex.”

And I giggled uncontrollably again as I said, “Okay,” and we rode in silence for a while, sipping away at our coffees. After thinking long and hard about our conversation, I realized that I didn’t fully understand the whole gay concept. And I had taken my dream literally. I concluded that the dream was triggered by my mind trying to make sense of a concept I didn’t understand at all.

I began to feel sad and thought, “Ah, crap! I’m back to square one on figuring out what my nerve problems are. If I was gay at least I would have an answer.”

“So Josh and the people at Sins don’t mind if people who aren't gay go there?”

“No, not at all. Josh has many friends who are straight. He is the kindest person I know, but his family disowned him when he came out. He’s not allowed to visit his family, and they don’t talk to him anymore,” she answered.

“My family doesn’t like what I am doing, either, though they still talk to me. But I know it's only because they aren't giving up hope on talking me into coming back to the life they think I am supposed to live. Do you think it would be okay if I called Josh sometime?” I asked.

“Absolutely,” she said. She pulled out a card, handed it to me, and said, “Here, this is his card with his phone number on it. Feel free to call him anytime, he would love to talk to you. You can ask him whatever you want and he is probably going to ask you many questions, too. He really wants to know why German people live in Mexico.”

I got even more excited as she continued talking. I knew I had found another person I could be friends with who wouldn’t judge me for asking strange questions. I had so many questions about the new world I was trying to be part of.

When Susie and I got back from shopping, we helped her mom clean the floors with Pine-Sol, made tweeback, and folded laundry. Susie was the oldest of nine siblings. Spending time at their house was like going home -- it was as busy and loud as I remembered my home.

Being around Susie's family made me miss my family a lot, especially when I thought about all the special Christmas mornings I shared with them growing up. But I appreciated the quiet when I got home to my apartment. I couldn’t wait to get back to reading the books I had picked up from the library.

But first I had to go through the pile of mail that I had gotten while I was away. I put aside a brown envelope that had Canada written on it. I thought, “I will read this another time,” and put it aside.

There was a letter from my family that I opened first. It had a card in it that said, “Felicitaciones por el embarazo (Congratulations on the pregnancy.)” I knew what it meant and made up my mind right away about what that implied. The card had a woman with a head covering on it and she was holding a baby in her arms. Inside the card were all kinds of Christmas stickers that my siblings had put in with little notes written to me in High German.

I immediately got upset and thought that rumors about me being pregnant were going around again. But then I realized the card could have easily been mistaken for a Christmas card. The image of the women on the card could easily have been mistaken to be the virgin Mary with baby Jesus in her arms. My brothers would have been able to read the card to my mom, but I knew that they were often not home when mom and the younger kids sat around the table and wrote letters to me.

Those sorts of mishaps happened often in the Mennonite colonies. For example, a father and five of his sons had bought new baseball caps in town once that had Viva México Cabrones (Viva Mexico Bastards) embroidered on the front of them. My oldest brother told the dad what it said, and the next time we saw them they had ripped the words out of the caps. 

I decided that that was what happened with the card. I had a little chuckle about it and continued my day, reading and staring at my award. That was until George came over to invite me to a New Year's Eve party at his friend’s house down the street from the apartment building.

“Hey, George, I’m glad you came over. I have some questions for you.”

“Okay,” he said as he walked in.

I was disappointed that he never told me about what club Bree had invited me to when he had so many opportunities to do so. I pointed to the floor and said, “Sit.” I paced back and forth, thinking about how I was going to ask him why he didn’t tell me.

He looked up and said, “Oh shit, am I in trouble?”

“Yes, yes you are!”

“Okay, I am here, lay it on me. Let me have it,” he said as he crossed his legs, separated his arms, placed them on either side of his body, hunched over and went limp so his hair covered his face.

My heart started pounding as I looked at him sitting there like that. I felt like I had broken him into a million pieces and all I wanted to do was to pick him up and put him back together. I thought, “how can I be mad at him?

“Okay, I am not that mad at you. Can you sit up straight and look at me?” I put my hands on my hips, pacing back and forth past him and went for it.

“Remember you told me to ask Bree what club she invited me to go to? Why didn’t you tell me more about it? Why didn’t you tell me that it was a gay club? Are you gay, George?”

His limp body slid down the wall to his right all the way to the floor as if I had just fired a metralleta (submachine gun) at him. He started laughing so hard, he had to fight for air to breathe until he began to cough uncontrollably.

When he finally came up for air, he sat up straight, pulled his fingers through his hair, looked at me and said, “Let's get the most important question out of the way here before this can continue any further. I AM NOT GAY!”

“Oh, yeah? And how do you know that for sure, George?”

“Umm… Ahhh… Trust me, Anna, I know that for sure.”

“Okay, ahhh… What about the other questions?”

“Well Anna, I didn’t tell you because I didn’t want to assume anything about where you stood on the subject of homosexuality. To be honest, I was a bit afraid of what your reaction might be. I didn’t have a clue and I didn’t want to force my beliefs on you. I wanted you to learn for yourself and make up your own mind about it without my influence.”

I thought to myself, “look up homosexuality, assume and influence in the dictionary as soon as Geroge leaves while it is fresh in my mind.” Then I said, “Um… Okay, and what about Bree? Is she ahhh… you know?”

“Bree… Well, she… I think she is not sure about much. She is trying to figure her life out. She was confused like that before I met her and you should ask her about that if you want to know. I think I have already said too much. It's important for people to get to know each other and decide for themselves whether they want to be friends or not and not based their decisions on what other people think or say about them. You know what I mean?” He asked as he peeked through his hair and paused for a while to see my reaction. Just like he did when he read the book about suicide to me.

I glanced at him from the side and said, “Okay, I think I do.”

“Well, that’s the reason I thought you should ask her yourself. I felt that it was not my place to tell you. Ahhh… and yeah, so that’s about it.”

I took a deep breath and sat down on the floor. “Okay, my turn to ask the questions. Where and how did all these questions come up? Your turn to talk, Anna.”

I lay down on the floor and took another deep breath. He got up, came closer to me, and laid down beside me. I began telling him about my experience at the gay night club.

“Did you have fun? What do you think?”

“I loved it. I was relaxed for the most part because I didn’t have to worry about running into any Low German, Mexican cowboys, or anyone else who might gossip about me. I just love Christina’s gay friend Josh. I followed him around like a lost puppy. I am a bit embarrassed about that, now that I think about it.”

“You, too? I’m sure he didn’t mind and I hate to generalize, but that is so typical. All women love gay men even you, the girl from a Mennonite colony of the Mexican desert who has never been exposed to gay people before, and you already love him too. I just don’t get it. AHHH… F#CK! There is no hope for the rest of us.”

New year’s 2015 Molino, Durango, Mexico

“Well… Um… Ahhh… I…” I said as we got interrupted by the ringing of my phone. I was relieved because I didn’t really want to answer George’s question about why I loved Josh so much. I knew exactly why, but I wasn't sure how to explain it to him before I had that week I needed to explain to him why I was so afraid of the Mexica Mennonite cowboy named Aaron.

I jumped up, picked up the phone, and said, “Hello?” I felt the blood leave my face and rush to my feet when I heard a man’s voice say, “Hello, Anna?”

George sat up quickly and began to listen carefully when he saw the look on my face as I answered, “Yes, this is Anna.” Click here to continue reading my story.

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