Thursday, March 17, 2016

Dear Mennonite


Continued from Surviving Mennonite


“What! What is it?” I asked.

He sat down beside me, put the letter on the coffee table, pulled his hair up as he leaned back looking up at the ceiling and as he let out a big sigh he said, “Anna, this letter was sent to you to let you know that you can go and write your citizenship test.”

“What! That is great, when?”

My heart stopped when he turned to me and said, “Last week Anna.”

“What?” I asked while his words sunk in. I suddenly felt really cold as all the warmth of my body rushed to my feet.

It was the first time I really felt George going into a panic mode with me. I could see the worried concerned look on his face as he dug deep and tried to find words to say to me.

“Okay, before we get all crazy worried here, there has got to be a way to ah…” 

“I can't believe I missed it. I am such an idiot!”

“No Anna don’t say that. There has got to be something that we can do about this.”

“Have you ever heard what happens to people that miss this kind of appointment?”

“No, to tell you the truth Anna, I don’t keep up or pay attention to the Canadian immigration laws. I have never actually cared about this kind of thing before.”

I went right back into a nerve-wracking panic state when it sank in that this time I was in such big trouble that not even George could help me. But we continued talking about it which didn’t help at all.

He said, “I can't imagine, that this is the first time that this has happened.”

“Yea, I mean when people are working and going to school, they don’t exactly have the time to just go write a test on a Wednesday morning,” I answered.

He looked at me with such compassion as he said, “I think most people would miss work and school for an appointment like this. I mean this is the appointment you don’t miss so that you get to stay and continue to work and go to school in Canada.”

“Oh no! What if I will have to go back to Mexico because of this?”

“Ah, crap no! Sorry Anna, I didn’t mean to scare you. I don’t think that that will happen. Wait there is a number on here I can call.”

I got all excited and said, “Yes! that is a great idea would you?”

“Ahhh shoot! It's Saturday, all government offices are closed, I know that much is true.”

“Oh, okay,” I answered in a low voice.

“We will have to wait until next week to call.”

“Okay, oh no if I have to go back to Mexico because of this I will be known as that stupid girl who got deported because she didn’t open her mail, instead of that stupid girl who left her family. I’m not sure which one I prefer.”

“F#ck no! Stop it, Anna, you are not stupid and you won’t be deported for missing this appointment. Not if I have anything to with it.”

The idea began to grow on me. Part of me was begging to feel relieved that I might have to go back to Mexico because it felt like a never-ending cycle. Every time I was getting comfortable thinking that I was doing great, something like that happened to make me doubt myself all over again. I thought if it happened this way then the decision to just give it all up would be made for me. I couldn’t handle being on my own anyways.

George got up, threw the letter on the coffee table and said, “I have an idea I’ll be right back” and went to his bedroom.

While he was in his bedroom I had some quiet time to think it all through. I thought this will all be for the best If I am forced to go back home, it will be so much easier to face all those people that I know are dying to tell me, “We told you so. We knew that you wouldn’t be able to do it.”

When I imagined those people looking me into my eyes and telling me that. I changed my mind. I got all excited and began to feel butterflies in my stomach as I began to dream about the idea of, what if I was able to prove to everyone including myself that I could do it. Stay in Canada and finish school if nothing else.

George came out of his bedroom looking and smelling amazing. He had changed into dark blue jeans, a white t-shirt, and a black leather jacket. He brought a leather jacket over to me and said, “Here put this on… let's go.”

“Where are we going?”

“Just trust me,” he said and winked at me.

“Okay,” I answered while I blushed and struggled to put on and zip up the jacket that smelled as amazing as he did.

I felt nervous walking beside him down the hallway and down the stairs. Every time I looked at him wishing that he would answer my question about where we were going. He just smiled and winked at me.

I kept looking at him as we walked down the sidewalk thinking that he didn’t notice. But without turning his head to look at me, he said, “Watch where you're going Anna, you don’t want to step into a puddle and get your jeans all muddy.”

“Okay,” I said as I turned all red of embarrassment.

“You still don’t really trust me, do you?”

“Ah… I am just curious as to where we are going.”

“Have I ever steered you wrong Anna?”

“No,” I answered in a low embarrassed voice.

“Okay, then let's just enjoy this walk and the fresh air.”

“Okay,” I answered as we kept walking and got closer to a plaza with a video store, a pizza shop, and a sports bar in it.

I was thinking okay so we are either renting a movie, picking up a pizza or going to that bar. We passed the video store, then the pizza shop and when we got to the bar door George opened it for me and still just smiled as I walked passed him into the bar.

He led me to a table in the back near a pool table where two men with long beards and tattoos were playing pool. We sat down and, a waitress came over right away and asked us what we wanted to drink. George ordered a beer, so I did too. While the waitress went to get our drinks George turned to me and said, “I can't wait to get my bike out and take you for a ride on it again.”

“Yea, me neither. If I am still here,” I answered.

“Alright Anna, you know how worried you were when you had to go to court and in the end, it wasn’t as bad as you had imagined it would be?”

“Yes.”

“I have a feeling that the same thing will happen with missing that appointment. Try to live in the moment, you are here now, can we just have a good time and not think about that for the rest of the night?”

“Okay, I will try,” I answered as the men with the long beards walked toward us. George got up, shook their hands and introduced me to his friends Bones and Pug. Bones reached down, grabbed my hand, pulled it up, placed his other hand on top of my hand and held it there for a moment as he looked at me and said, “It is really nice to meet you Anna” and proceeded to gently kiss my hand.

Bones looked scary to me but I had a really hard time not laughing because his beard was tickling my hand while he kissed it.

Pug shook my hand and said, “Hi Anna.”

After I had a few sips of my beer I began to relax a bit and enjoy myself as George and his friends convinced me to let them teach me how to play pool. After a few attempts and failing miserably, Bones stepped up and told me, “Don’t be so uptight Anna, try to relax your hands and shoulders.”

“Okay, I will try if you think that’s going to help me.”

It worked, I did a lot better and he let me think that I won but I knew that he let me win. Bones started clapping his hands and everybody in the bar stopped what they were doing and clapped for me while the song “Brown Eyed Girl” played in the background.

I wanted to enjoy that but it was strange and awkward for me, I turned all red and didn’t know what to do with my face while everyone was looking at me. Then George came to my rescue while he was still clapping for me he said, “Good job, you did great Anna, I hope you are you hungry because I ordered us some food.”

I said, “Yes, I am” and thought, “Oh no how am I going to say my prayer in a bar with all these people around me?” as I followed him to the table. My heart was pounding with panic as we sat down at the table. I took the napkin from the table and while I opened it on my lap I took a moment to quickly say my prayer in my head so that no one would notice what I was doing.

It felt so wrong. As wrong and awkward as hearing Jesus’s name in a song while having a good time. When I looked up at George he winked at me to let me know that all was good and he knew that I was having a hard time with that. He just sat there and patiently waited for me as I processed my thoughts through it.

I talked myself into just moving on because the food smelled so good and I was very hungry. While George and I began to eat I looked around to see if anybody was staring at me. I was relieved to see that nobody noticed my awkwardness. It was all in my head.

People were talking, laughing and having a good time. George’s friends continued to play pool and every time I looked over at them they smiled, held up their beer and nodded their heads.

“Thank you, George, this food is delicious and your friends are being really nice to me.”
I felt butterflies in my stomach and all the way down to my toes as he looked me right in my eyes as he said, “You're welcome, sweetie” followed by a wink.

As I finished George’s fries, he asked, “What would you like to do now, you want to play some more pool, go for a walk or rent a movie and go to my place and watch it?”

“A movie would be nice,” I answered.

“Okay, but you have to pick the movie.”

“Ah… are you sure that’s a good idea? I wouldn’t know how to pick a good one and what if you don’t like it.”

“That’s okay, surprise me. This is not about me, it's about you Anna.”

“Okay,” I answered as I felt the pressure coming on and got all nervous about picking a movie.

We walked over to say goodbye to George’s friends, they both gave me a hug and Bones said, “It was a pleasure meeting you, darling. I hope to see you again.”

“Okay, you too and thanks for teaching me how to play pool and letting me win,” I answered.

He laughed and said, “You did good kiddo.”

We walked next door to the video store and I took a long time to decide what movie to pick. I finally picked Pretty Woman. I picked that one because it was called “Pretty Woman.” I was fascinated and wanted to learn what exactly non-Mennonite people considered to be a pretty woman.

I held the movie up and looked at George, “Is that the one you pick?” he asked.

“Should I?” 

“If that’s the one you want to watch, then yes,” he answered.

“Okay, yes I do.”

“Alright then that’s the one we’ll watch”

George paid for the movie, some popcorn and we walked around the block taking a detour back to the apartment building.

The movie was a bit confusing to me because I wasn’t really paying attention to it. I blushed every time I looked at George because of some of the scenes in the movie. It felt like all the other times I watched a movie with him except instead of thinking about a plan as to how I was going to bolt out of George’s apartment when the movie ended. I thought about how ridiculous it would be if that would be the last time I would ever get to watch a movie with him and I might never see him again all because of one letter I didn’t open at the right time. Click here to continue reading my story.

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