Thursday, March 31, 2016

Ecstatic Mennonite

Continued from Adiós Mennonite

I ran up the stairs and into my apartment threw my bag down and ripped that envelope open. Out of breath, my heart was pounding as I began to read the first few words of the letter.

Dear Anna Wall,

We are sorry to that we missed you on your first invitation to write your Citizenship test. We automatically rescheduled you for a new date to write the test. 

This is your second notice to write your Canadian Citizenship test.

I stopped reading and did a little happy dance with the letter in my hand. During my excitement, I thought, “George! I’ve got to tell George!” and ran to his apartment but before I knocked I remembered that it was probably getting close to midnight and that he would be sleeping. I turned around and tiptoed back to my apartment thinking I’ll have to wait until tomorrow.

The next morning I drove Izaak’s care to school to meet with my teacher to go over my book report. She went over it with me and answered any questions I had until I was done.

“Thank you for teaching me how to do this again. I hope I can remember how to do the next one on my own.”

“You’re welcome Anna, you are doing great, there are just a few areas that you need to focus on a bit more on. This works, if you ever need to stay after school to work on anything just let me know. I’d be happy to stay and help you as much as you need.”

“Thanks, I will do that.”

By the time I was done at school, It was getting close to lunchtime for the day shift people at the factory. I thought I would go buy George a coffee and bring it to him when I go tell him that we don’t need to call the immigration office anymore.

When I got to the coffee shop I thought if Bree is sitting at the same table I should bring her a coffee too and also I bought one for her.

It felt strange and awkward walking into the factory in the daytime. Especially when I passed the table where the Mennonite women were sitting that I sat with when I first started working there. They all stared at me as I walked pass them to the table where George was sitting, and sure enough, Bree was sitting at the same table. She was really surprised to see me when I put the coffee in front of her she jumped up, gave me a hug and kissed my cheek. She turned to George and said, “Isn’t she a doll?”

“Yes. She sure is. Thank you for the coffee Anna.”

“You’re welcome,” I answered.

Bree sat back down and opened her coffee and I watched her smile turn upside down when George said, “Anna, let's go for a walk.”

“Okay,” I answered with excitement.

George got up, grabbed his coffee, made his way to the door. I held my breath as I  followed him while Bree and the Mennonite women stared me down with disappointed looks on their faces.

We went to George’s tool shop at the back of the factory. When we got there he said, “Okay Anna, here we go. Let's call immigration Canada to find out what we can do,” as he reached for the phone.

“Actually, you don’t have to call them anymore. I got another letter,” I answered as I pulled it out of my pocket and held it up.

“What! No way. Are you f#cking kidding me? That is great what does it say?”

“Here you want to read it?” I asked with the biggest smile on my face.

He took the letter, read it in a few seconds, threw it on the table, pulled his hair up, and said, “Holy f#cking shit! Anna. This is the best news ever, what a relief.”

“I know! Isn’t it? Well… if I pass the test, I will be a Canadian in two weeks,” I explained. I felt a tickling sensation traveling all over my body as I was telling George this.

“Oh Anna, you will pass the test. I am ecstatic. When did you get it?”

“It was in my mailbox when I got home from work last night.”

“You should have come over to tell me right away.”

“I was about to, then I realized that it was midnight and thought that you'd be sleeping. I didn’t want to wake you up, so I changed my mind.”

“Well, Anna that is so considerate of you, but some things in life are more important than sleep and this is one of them. You should have used your key to let yourself in and woken me up to tell me the good news.”

“Ah… wouldn't that freak you out, if you woke up and you saw me standing beside your bed staring at you?”

He smiled revealing his beautiful teeth and said, “No. Not at all,” and winked at me.

I wasn’t sure what to do with myself as I desperately searched for words to say to that. But I didn’t get to respond because we got interrupted as the door opened and people came back to work.

“Okay, I have to let you get back to work,” I said.

“Ahhh shit! Alright, I’ll talk to you later. Thanks for the coffee.”

“Anytime,” I answered as I walked through the door and left.

I drove around not knowing what to do with myself and all the excitement I was feeling. I didn’t want to go to my apartment and be by myself. I was used to not having a minute to spare but I still had three hours before I had to be at work.

I decided to go to the thrift store and look around for a while. While looking around at the thrift store, I ran into Mrs. Braun. She only had her baby with her. When she saw me, she smiled and came closer. I said, “Hi.”

I could tell she was feeling awkward and wasn’t sure what to say to me, so I just kept talking so she didn’t have to.

She began talking after I asked, “Where are all your kids?” in Low German.

“They are at home with my sisters. My parents are here to work in the fields for the summer and I brought my mom to buy some things they will need. They are looking for a house to rent, would you know of a house that’s available around here?”

“No, I don’t, but I can ask my friend if he knows of a house for rent.”

“You mean that man with all the tattoos?”

“Ah…” I said as I was thinking of something clever to say I took too long and got interrupted.

“Aren’t you ever afraid? Living alone? Without a husband?”

“Ah… It’s not always easy but I am learning how to take care of myself so I don’t need a husband.”

I wanted to ask her if she was happy living the life that she was but I knew better than to ask her a question like that and I didn’t.

“Okay,” she said as she looked at me sideways.

I spotted a sewing machine, picked it up and said, “I am going to buy this.”

“You still sew?” she asked.

“Yes, I do. I am going make a dress from the material that mom sent me,” I answered as I thought of telling her to tell her husband to call Mexico and tell people that. But I didn’t because I knew that that wasn’t something interesting to gossip about. No one would be interested in talking about that. Talking about me being seen with a “schwien-noagel” was way more interesting gossip.

I continued to look around for clothes keeping in mind to look for something that would be ‘sexy Mennonite balance’ and what I thought looked good on me. I found a long black top that only had two buttons at the front. I liked it because it reminded me of a schaldüak (apron). I thought I could wear it over a plain t-shirt and it would make it look a bit more sindoagsch (dressy) I put it into my cart to buy.

I continued to look around and found a perfect white shirt, and a short gray skirt that I thought would look good all put together. I still had no idea about what size I was, I just guessed and took the whole outfit to the change room and tried it on. All three pieces I picked fit and looked pretty good I thought. I decided that that would be the outfit I would wear on the day I would go write my Canadian citizenship test.

When I was ready to leave Mrs. Braun’s mother was in my way and I had to wait for her to move so I could get through. She stared me up and down then at her daughter and back at me, as she was looking back and forth I wanted to ask “if it’s so hard to look at me then why are you looking at me?” but that would have been considered very disrespectful of me. Finally, she asked, “This is that girl, you are Anna Wall?” in Low German.

“Yes, I am,” I answered.

She said, “You should be a good girl and go home to Mexico.”

“I know, but I am not going to,” I answered as I looked at Mrs. Braun and she quickly looked away.

Mrs. Braun’s mother said, “Na jo” as she stared me up and down again and moved so I could get through.

I paid for my items, drove home washed the clothes I bought and tested the sewing machine and was happy to learn that it worked. I folded my new to me freshly washed clothes, and put them away ready to wear on my big day. I put my Discover Canada booklet back into my work bag along with my notebooks, dictionaries and off I went to work feeling confident and happy about actually getting somewhere with my struggles. 

I spent the rest of the days during March break studying for my test. I ironed the tiniest passable pleats into the skirt of my new dress and finished sewing it during all that spare time I had.

As it got closer to the date that I was to write my citizenship test. I lost a few nights of sleep due to a recurring dream that I had. I was floating on a giant letter in black water, I was throwing books at Mexican Lobos that were swimming around me like sharks trying to eat me. While a floating windmill that occasionally turned into to my fula was telling me to be a good girl and entregate (surrender).

Finally, the morning that I had been preparing for, for so long had arrived. I sat up in my bed and imagined that I yelled at the windmill asking, “SURRENDER TO WHAT?” and thought maybe it means, “Go home to Mexico and beg for jauma (mercy).”

I got up, put my new-to-me outfit on and off I went to write that test that felt like I had forever studied for.

When I arrived at Citizenship and Immigration Canada, the room was filled with about sixty people, all from countries I had never known or heard about. I sat beside a lady who was completely covered in black material. I couldn’t help but stare at her, all I could see were her eyes. I felt awkward and just smiled when our eyes met, but I thought what the heck? I can't tell if she is smiling back at me or not. At that moment, I felt bad for wearing such a short skirt because she was so covered up.

I followed along with everybody and I picked up the pen with my shaking hand when everyone else did. I began to fill in the little square boxes beside the answers I thought would be the right ones.

When I got to the part of the test where I had to write the answer down, my head began to hurt from concentrating so hard on reading all the questions before I wrote down the answers. My hand was still shaking as I put down the pen when I was done.

A man that looked like a police officer said, “Please stay seated if you hear your name called that means you passed the test and you can stay for the ceremony and receive your citizenship”. 

I held my breath and my whole body tensed up as I began waiting, listening and hoping with every fiber of my being for my name to be called. Click here to continue reading my story.

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