Thursday, June 30, 2016

A limitless Mennonite gift

While George and I sat there quietly and Sharon typed on the computer, I thought over everything that had just happened. I thought, “Soon there will be windmills yelling at me, I am going to fall off a swing into the water and jump up in my bed with lots of tears about it when I realize that it was just a dream.” But I didn’t. When I looked at George I knew that I was awake and that I had basically just won the lottery. 

Sharon got up from her chair, shook my hand and said, “You are all set, Anna. I look forward to seeing you in three months. Good luck.”

I thought up many sentences in my head that I wanted to say to her so that she would know that she made the best thing that could have ever happen to me, happen. But I couldn’t bring myself to say any of that and instead I just said, “Thank you” as I shook her hand.

When I walked out of Sharron’s office, everything I looked at was so beautiful. I felt that knot that had lived in my stomach for so long coming up as George jumped in front of me. He opened the door and when the sun and fresh air hit my face at the same time, I felt like screaming my face off. George took one look at me and said, “Anna, remember what I told you about not holding things in?”


“Well, show me what you got,” he said.

I screamed, jumped up in the air and George scooped me up and spun me around.

When he put me down, I felt weird because people were staring at us and he said, “Anna, sometimes you just have to live in the moment and not care about what others think. I can guarantee you that most of the people that are staring at us right now are jealous as they wondering ‘what the f#ck is she so happy about?’”

It was too much, I couldn’t handle all that and a tear made its way down my cheek as George turned away from me to grab the helmet. When he turned around to face me again, he just gently wiped the tear of my cheek with his thumb, almost as if he had expected to have to do that. He hugged me, slipped the helmet over my head and said, “Let's get the f#ck out of here and go for a real ride.”

I got on the back of that motorcycle, not knowing where he was taking me and snuggled right up to him as he took off leaving all those people standing there staring at us. As I thought, “okay George, this really is a long ride” I saw a sign that said, “Welcome to Port Dover”. He parked the motorcycle in front of a restaurant and as he helped me take off the helmet, he said, “Let's go in and have breakfast.”

After the waitress brought us coffee she took our orders of bacon, eggs, hashbrowns, and toast. George explained that Port Dover was the place thousands of bikers come to every time a Friday falls on the thirteenth.

While we ate I said, “I can't believe that won't have to worry about looking for a job and I get to just go to school. It feels like a dream and I’m going to cry when I wake up.”

“Anna, it’s not the kind of dream that you wake up from, It’s a real dream, it’s a gift.”

“A gift? Wow! Thank you.”

“Don’t thank me, I am just the lucky person who happened to have had the pleasure of watching you unwrap that gift.”

“Okay, who would I say thank you too then?”

“Well, it's not so much as to whom you say thank you too, but what you do with this gift.”

“Okay, what would I do?”

“I think the best way to say “thank you” for a gift like this is by giving it back to others, by being an example of how you overcome incredible odds and still get up every day and make the best of what you have. Starting from wherever you are, no matter how far you might have to go, or how hard it might be. That’s how you turn this gift into more gifts. That’s how I think you say thank you.”

I just stared at his teeth and thought, “I am not sure about what you are telling me but please don’t stop talking,” as he continued.

“I wouldn't worry about that too much yet. I’m sure you will figure it out, now that you have time to focus on school. There are endless ways to give back, just trust that it will come to you.”

“I hope so.”

“I just know that with your braveness, determination, and desire to learn, you will do great things with this gift. Who knows, you might even get to use it to help our own people that are in the same situation as you were. Something tells me that there are many people that could use your help to figure out just how limitless that SIN card really is. I think that that would be the best way to stick it to them, not by telling them how wrong they are about you but by showing them.”

I just stared at him in a daze, smiled and said, “That sounds perfect when you say it.”

“Ah shit, I’m sorry, I am just babbling on and on.”

“It’s okay, I like listening to you babbling on and on.”

“Anna, it's really none of my business but I’m so curious about your visit with the nurse, how did it go?”


“Ahhh, you don’t have to tell me about it if you don’t want too.”

“No, It’s okay, I want to tell you about it. She said that you were right, that my nerve problems were the biggest load of crap that she had ever heard, but she just used different words to explain it to me than you did,” I answered and started giggling uncontrollably.

“When I thought about it, later on, I regretted telling you that,” George explained.

“What, why?”

“Because it was irresponsible of me to tell you that in my moment of frustration. It's not fair, no one has the right to tell someone that what their illness is a load of crap.”

“Ahhh, yeah you did kind of leave me sitting there under that tree wondering ‘what the heck? George.’”

“I’m sorry…”

“No. it’s okay… She told me that I had been feeling sick because I had experienced extremely high levels of stress and anxiety about my new life away from everything that I had ever known. And that it was perfectly normal for me to think that there was something seriously wrong with me. She said that it was serious, but most people can live a happy healthy life while having nerve problems by finding meaning and purpose and focusing on that instead of the nerve problems.”

“Wow, perfect! What a relief.”

“I know, I thought that I would have to take medication for it.”

“Well, some people do need medication for their nerve problems. That is great news, Anna. I am so happy for you. Thanks for sharing that with me.”

“No, thank you for being frustrated and telling me what you thought about it. It made me think about it in a different way.”

“Well, in that case, you’re welcome. I'm glad that me being a moron helped you figure it out,” he said, we both laughed and continued drinking our coffees.

I put my cup down and asked, “What time is it, should we go? I don’t want to be late for work.”

“We still have lots of time and besides what are they going to do, fire you?” he asked and we both laughed.

“Don’t worry Anna, I will get you to work on time.”

“I will miss my job.”

“Me too. It does kind of suck that we all have to look for different jobs right now, but in a way, it's good that we are forced to change, that is how you grow and learn about what else you can do. Even though it's not easy and I could think of way better things to do with my time, but if we weren't forced to change, I don’t think we would and life just becomes a boring old routine, like a robot.”

“Ahhh yeah… have you figured out what you are going to do?”

“No, not really, I am thinking about becoming a robot who does only the things I like to do. Sleep, ride my motorcycle and draw tattoos. Oh yeah, and eat. Speaking of riding motorcycles, shall I get you to work?”

“Okay,” I answered as the butterflies started jumping around in my stomach with excitement about riding on the back of George’s motorcycle again.

He took me for a long ride on the way back and still got me to work on time. At lunch break, I told Sam my good news of being able to stay in school and not have to worry about finding a job.

“That is awesome! Congratulations Anna, I am so happy for you. I have some news too.”

“Okay, what is it?”

“I got a job offer in Alberta and I am considering moving there.”

“What? Wow, that sounds really far away.”

“Yeah it kinda is, but it will be good for me, I can always come back here if it doesn’t work out.”

That’s when the reality of how much change was happening hit me and it made me really sad. All that change was scary for me, especially starting grade ten on Monday and the pressure of delivering passing grades to Sharron.

Eight hours of sitting at the sewing machine with no distractions got me thinking about George. The kind of deep thinking that my mother would tell me to stop, which I concluded might be because that was what causes nerve problems.

I thought about my conversation with George, about the gift that had been given to me including the biggest gift, I had ever received, George himself. I wondered who I could thank for that gift and I remembered that he told me to trust that it would come to me. I decided that I would look out for that and wait for it to come to me too.

On our way out at the end of the shift we all got another envelope. It scared me because it wasn’t even payday. I decided that I would wait to open it when I got home, just like I did when I got that pink slip. It made my night when I opened it and saw that there were two cheques in that envelope, a bonus and my final vacation pay.

I put the cheques on the pillow next to me and went to sleep, just to see what kind of dream I might have. That night dreamt that I was wearing a new green pleated dress and before I started to float onto the water toward Posen Land again, I grabbed my dictionary, my sandals, climbed out of the boat and started walking down a long country road. I walked until my feet hurt so much that it woke me up.

Saturday morning, though my feet hurt from walking so far in my dream, I woke up feeling strange but rested, like a new person. I made myself a cup of instant coffee and drank it while I stood on my balcony and watched the sunrise. I thought about what George told me about growing and changing being good for us and I knew that I was on my way to adulthood.

I just knew that it was time for me to do what I did in my dream. Take my CANADIAN EDITION WEBSTER’S ENCYCLOPEDIC DICTIONARY OF THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE and go forward, while keeping in mind that that body of water that I could so easily drown in at any given moment was right there behind me and that it would always be there. I imagined that I left my nerve problems and my deceased grandfather in that boat beside the windmill floating on the waters of Posen Land as I went back inside my apartment.

I put on my Enigma tape, remembered the hard times I had endured to get where I was at that moment and decided that I needed to go shopping. Not for that VCR that I had dreamt of buying for so long, but for books to learn about what my dreams really meant, what they were trying to tell me and material for a green dress at the Mennonite fabric store. Even if it meant that I might have to face some of the people that were against what I was doing and gossiping about it. After I cleaned my apartment with pine sol of course… Click here to continue reading my story.

Green dress image courtesy of Nan Peters

Thursday, June 23, 2016

The day that changed my life forever

Continued from A date with a Mennonite

During the next week at work, every quiet moment I had, I thought about how much I would miss my job as I began to count down the days of the best job I ever had.

On Thursday morning, I had an appointment with my favorite nurse friend at the walk-in clinic, and she confirmed what George told me about my nerve problems being complete bullshit. She just used slightly different words to explain it to me.

She asked, “How is your appetite, are you eating three meals a day like I recommended?”

“Yes I am, well, some days I can’t but there are times when I actually get hungry.”

“That’s great, and how are you sleeping?”

“I often have nightmares, but not as much as I did when I first came to see you.”

She said, “Anna I don’t specialize in nerve problems, but I think you are and will be just fine. You were experiencing extremely high levels of stress and anxiety, which is perfectly normal in your situation and most people can manage that with the way they live their lives. One of the reasons that I think you are fine Anna is because you look so much better now that you have gained a bit of weight. I think that it is because you have found meaning and purpose in your life, which I believe is the cure for your nerve problems. But if you want a second opinion I will refer you to a specialist, just let me know if you would like me to do that.”

I realized I had believed that there was something seriously wrong with me. My grandfather’s nerve problems were real and I was convinced that mine were too. He had a mental illness that ultimately caused him to commit suicide and because his illness wasn’t physical, it had become known as “nerve problems”. I felt that I had the same illness, and my fear of ending up like him was one of the forces behind my braveness and my determination to learn about that and everything else I could.

I remember the feeling of relief trickling down my body as the nurse explained it to me and I began to believe her because I had also believed that I was a hard learner and that that wasn’t true either. I began to believe George and the nurse that I was perfectly healthy. Well, I knew I was a bit crazy, but I didn’t have the major health condition that I had been waiting to be diagnosed with. I felt so much better about everything as I started to believe that the choices I had made for myself were the right ones for me. Especially after I heard a nurse tell me that my nerve problems could be cured with purpose and meaning in my life. I had read about the purpose and meaning and I understood that going to school and learning gave me purpose and meaning. That changed everything, and it was the best news I could have heard.

I loved that nurse so much I wanted to be her best friend forever. All of that greatness she told me had replaced most of the worries I had about being unemployed in a week. I walked home over that same highway overpass where I stood not too long ago and thought of jumping off of. I walked over that bypass with a big smile on my face feeling so much more confident in my ability to figure life out. When I got home I sat down and picked up a book and continued learning about, ‘this thing called life.’

I had only read a few pages and then my phone rang.


“Anna! I hope you aren't busy tomorrow morning. Are you?”

“George! Ah no...”

“Great! I made an appointment for you. I hope that is okay. Well, it’s kind of an appointment for both of us.”

“Okay, sure I am not doing anything important.”

“Okay fantastic, can you come to my place at 8:30 in the morning, we’ll go on my motorcycle,” he said and the little hairs on my neck began to stand up as those words settled in my ears.

“YES! I mean okay, I will see you at 8:30 then,” and right after I hung up the phone I thought, “I should have asked him where we are going.” The more I thought about it the more curious I got especially because he was so excited about wherever we were going. I thought “hopefully I will run into him at work on his way out before my shift starts tonight,” but sadly I didn’t.

Friday morning when I woke up the first thing that popped into my mind was “George! I’m going on a motorcycle ride with George today.” I was so excited I couldn’t even eat breakfast. I just got ready, neatly folded my pink slip, put it in my jacket pocket, walked over to George’s apartment and knocked on his door.

Still in his pajama bottoms, he opened the door and said, “Hey! Good morning, Anna please come in, have a seat. Would you like a cup of coffee, a real coffee?”

“Sure, thanks.”

He walked into the kitchen, poured me a cup of coffee, brought it to me and said, “Enjoy, I’ll be right back, I am just going to finish getting ready,” and winked at me.

I sat back on the sofa in his living room and enjoyed a real coffee experience while the butterflies swam around in the coffee in my stomach and his lizard stared at me. I couldn’t believe that such a short time ago I had been so afraid of George. I thought, “I don’t know where he is taking me and I don’t even care.”

I heard my mother’s voice in my head saying, “Anna, nich so sea glutzen” (Anna, don’t stare so much) when I saw him coming out of his bedroom ready to go. He looked and smelled amazing, wearing a simple white t-shirt, blue jeans and his hair pulled back into a ponytail.

“Alright, here we go. Do you remember the drill?”

“Ahhh,” I answered.

“Remember to hold on to me and don’t let go,” he explained as he zipped up his black leather jacket.

“Okay,” I answered as I thought, “Ah yeah… that won’t be a problem anymore,” with a big smile on my face.

“Alright let’s go then. Oh yeah did you remember your pick slip?”

“Yes, right here in my pocket.”

“Perfect!” He said, grabbed two helmets and off we walked to the parking lot where his motorcycle was parked. He put his helmet down on the seat and gently slipped a helmet over my head and adjusted it for me. He put his helmet on and got on the motorcycle, waited for me. I climbed on right up against him, wrapped my arms around his waist and interlocked my fingers.

“Ready?” He asked.


“Okay, hold on.”

“Okay,” I said as he took off and the butterflies in my stomach couldn't keep up with his speed. I felt like I was on that motorcycle for no longer than five minutes when he parked.

“What? That was fast, I was hoping that you would take me further than this.”

“After we take care of some things, I will take you for a real ride, okay.”

“Okay,” I said as he opened a door that entered a building I had never been too. We sat down in a waiting area and I looked at George thinking “Okay I'm just going to ask, what the heck are we doing here?” and a tall woman with dark shoulder-length hair walked up to me with a welcoming smile on her face, she reached for my hand and said, “Anna, nice to meet you” as she shook my hand.

George turned to me and said, “Anna, this is Sharon.”

She turned to George, shook his hand and said, “Thank you for bringing Anna this morning, how was the ride up here?”

“Anna thought it was too short,” said George and winked at me as we followed Sharon further into the building.

“Well, this shouldn't take too long, please have a seat and let’s get the paperwork started. Anna, did George explain any of this to you?”

“No, I have been wondering what we are doing here.”

“Well, I am an employment counselor and my job is to help people find work. George tells me that the factory you are both working at is closing?”


“I understand you are going to school and would like to finish your grade twelve?”

“I would love to. I know that I can't really get another job if I don’t. I got laid off a while ago and everywhere I went to look for work they asked if had finished grade twelve. But I need a job so I can pay my rent while I go to school,” I explained, and held my breath when the sound of that reality sucked all the oxygen out of Sharon’s office.

I slowly began to inhale as Sharon explained to me, “Well, you’ve come to the right place. I can certainly help you with all of that, and the timing couldn’t be better. Many changes have been made in our now Mike Harris government, which has upset many, to say the least, but you will definitely benefit from the changes that he has made.”

“I have heard that name before, people at school were talking about him and a lot of people got really angry,” I said as I turned to George and wondered if I should have even said that. He just sat there leaned back in the chair with his right ankle resting on his left knee, smiling and nodding his head.

“Alright, so with that being said, did you bring your pink slip?” Sharon asked.

“Yes I did,” I answered as I pulled it out of my pocket and placed it on the desk in front of her. She looked at it and began typing on a computer, printed a few documents and placed them on the table in front of me.

I liked Sharon as soon as I saw her, but I began to love a little more each time she spoke to me. “Anna, I have some great news for you. All you need to do is sign your name here, here and here. Start your next semester at the adult learning center on Monday while you finish your last week of work at the factory and you will be able to stay on unemployment until you finish your grade twelve.” And the air in her office began to feel lighter making it easier to breath following each word she spoke.

“There are only a few things I need from you Anna, and this is very important. At the end of each grade or three-month semester period, I need you to drop off a copy of your transcript. The teachers will know about this and make a copy for you and the only time that you are allowed to miss school is when you absolutely have to because you are sick, and I am keeping track of this.”

“Okay,” I answered as I thought, “What does all of this mean?”

“Each time at the end of a semester I will call you and we will talk about how things are going and for this to continue you have to have a passing grade. If not, the cheques will stop coming,” Sharon said, and I held my breath again as I looked at George.

George turned to Sharon and said, “That won't be a problem, Anna is going to pass every single grade with flying colors. It’s just a feeling have.” He turned back to me and said, “Now you can start breathing again Anna.”

“I have no doubt that you are going to do well Anna,” Sharon said as she handed me a pen and pointed to where I had to sign my name. I took the pen and signed beside all three x’s. I put the pen down and Sharon said, “Can you also write the date beside your name, Anna?” and my heart began pounding with fear as I tried to remember what date it was. I had completely forgotten what the date even was. I was way too embarrassed to ask, and while Sharon was typing on the computer, I noticed George sliding a piece of paper toward me. He whispered, “Like this,” he had written the date down for me to copy onto the document. 
Click here to continue reading my story.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

A date with a Mennonite

Continued from Inspired Mennonite

When Sam drove up to the sidewalk, I wondered if I should take my shoes off before getting into his shiny car so I wouldn’t make it dirty. He walked around his car and said, “Hi Anna,” as he opened the door for me.

“Hey, Sam thanks,” I said as he closed the car door and my heart began pounding while I was thinking that I shouldn’t be doing this. But it was too late, he took off like something was chasing us.

Looking out the window at the trees swooshing by, I thought about how it was possible to feel so many different ways in one day and it wasn’t even over yet. I secretly wished that the night was over and I was on my way home instead of on my way to the drive-in theater.

I glimpsed over at Sam hoping he wouldn't notice but he did. He smiled and said, “Anna, I’m so glad that you called to tell me that you wanted to come, I was worried that you would say no.”

“I thought about saying no, only to stay home and worry about how I could find another job, but then Christina called. She told me to forget about that for a while, to go out with you and have a good time.”

“She did?”


“Awesome! I am so glad she told you that. She is a good friend.”

“She sure is. I just wish that she lived closer.”

“How is she doing?”

“It sounded like she was doing great, she sounded very happy.”

“That’s great,” Sam answered.

“So what are you going to do for work?” I asked him.

“I already sent my resume to a few different places in town, I’m just going to wait and see what happens,” he said as he pulled up to a yard with a bunch of cars on it, and I thought, “Did he take me to an ütroop? (auction?)”

“You see that big white board over there?” Sam asked.


“That is the screen where the movie will be projected on.”

“Wow, that’s like a big TV.”

“Yeah, isn't it? So the reason we are here so early is because I wanted to make sure we got a good spot to park,” he explained while his friends arrived. Sam introduced me to his friends, Amy and Tim, Kim and Troy, they were two couples I hadn’t met before. They all shook my hand and said, “It’s nice to meet you, Anna.” I just smiled at them.

“Let's go get some popcorn before the lineups get too big,” said Kim and off we went into the building. While Sam and the two guys stood in the lineup Amy said, “Hey Anna you want to come to the washroom with us? You don’t want to go when the movie has started because it will get really dark and you don’t want to miss a second of this movie. I heard that it’s supposed to be fantastic.”

“Okay,” I said and followed them to the bathroom

“So what is this movie about?” I asked.

“We’re going to see Twister, it’s a movie about these people who chase tornadoes.”


By the time we were done in the bathroom and talking about the movie, the guys had left and gone back to the car.

“I’m so glad you know where Sam parked his car because I could never find it in this crowd. I would be so lost right now.”

“No worries Anna, I know exactly where he parked,” said Kim. 

The sun was setting behind the trees as we got back to the car. The guys had spread a big blanket on the grass, they were sitting on it waiting for us with popcorn and drinks that they had bought.

I sat down on the blanket next to Sam, he gave me a drink and said, “I hope you like it.”

I took a sip of the drink and before I could answer him, Troy asked, “So Anna, tell me did you ever experienced a tornado in Mexico?”

“Yes, I did a few times, but I remember the one we had when I was eleven years old. I was outside keeping an eye on my little brothers while one of them noticed the cloud turning really fast and just as he finished saying, ‘“Look, Anna, that could is turning into a long pointy tail,’ ” mom came running out telling us to come inside. We all ran inside, sat down at our spots around the kitchen table, put our hands together and said our memorized prayers quietly to ourselves. It suddenly got really dark and incredibly windy and once in a while the whole house lit up from the lightning. It got so loud that I couldn't hear my own thoughts, it sounded like our roof was being pulled from the house.”

“WOW! And then what happened?” asked Amy.

“Well, that felt like it was never going to end, but it suddenly got quiet and bright out again. We all ran outside and saw a big rainbow stretched out and reaching over the sky from one end of Mexico to the other. It didn’t take long and the news spread around the colony, that it was a tornado. It had pulled a huge tree out of the ground at the people’s house that lived near the lake and all the fish that had been in the lake were scattered all over their lawn.” 

“I’m getting the goosebumps just thinking about it, did anybody die?” asked Amy.

“No, well the fish did.”

“That must have been scary,” said Sam.

“It was. I thought we were all going to die, but our house wasn’t even touched by it and we forgot all about it being scary while having a great time jumping in the puddles after.”

“Do you miss Mexico?” asked Tim.

“Yes, I do. I miss many things about Mexico, especially the smell after the rain, the air was so fresh… or I’m not sure how to explain it but that smell after it rains is one of the things I miss most about Mexico. But I don’t miss the life I lived in the colony, well I do miss parts of it, or actually, I'm not even sure.”

“Was it boring living like that?” asked Kim.

“Yes, it was boring as heck, but I didn’t know it when I live there. I can only say that now because here in Canada I am so busy, I am doing so many things, especially now that I can...” and I stopped myself before I told them that I had just learned to read after coming to Canada. I thought, “They don’t need to know that, it’s way too embarrassing. I really hope that Sam hasn't told anybody about that.”

Only a few people knew about that and I wanted to keep it that way. I just wanted to forget that about it.

“Especially now that you can do what Anna?” asked Tim.

I was thinking hard about how I was going to answer that as truthfully as I could without actually telling the truth and then Sam rescued me, he said, “You mean especially now that you can speak enough English so that you can go out and do fun things with friends. Right, Anna?” and bumped my shoulder to let me know that he knew that I was trembling.

“Right, Sam,” I said and we both laughed.

It was getting dark and while Sam’s friends were moving around getting themselves comfortable on the blanket Sam looked at me and said, “Anna, you look great tonight.”
I turned all red and I was glad that it was getting darker so he wouldn’t notice. I said, “Thank you,” while I wondered if he just said that because he was glad that I wasn’t wearing my Mennonite dress, and the movie started.

Sam quickly got up and got some more blankets out to cover ourselves with. He sat down closer to me and covered us with a blanket. Everything went quiet as we watched the movie. I caught myself thinking, “This is the perfect, watching a movie outside like this,” as I enjoyed the heck out that experience and forgot all about it being a date or something like that. I didn’t want the movie to end.

Sadly the movie ended well past midnight and I was mad at myself for wishing that the night ended before it even started, when it was time to go home. On the way home, Sam asked, “So what do you think, Anna. Did you like watching a movie outside?

“I loved it! I so want to do that again.”

“Wouldn’t that have been scary if the tornado in your colony took a cow into the sky like in the movie?”

I laughed and said, “Yes, no kidding. I wish I could have seen how far those poor fish went up in the air during the tornado in my colony.”

“That would have been awesome to watch,” Sam answered.

I had so much fun and didn’t even think about it being a date until Sam pulled up to the front door of my apartment building my heart started pounding. I got so nervous about what might happen next. I had seen enough movies where that was the awkward part of a date.

I thought here we go as Sam walked around the car to open the door for me. I stepped out of his car and he backed up a bit and I held my breath as said, “I’m so glad you came Anna, this was fun,” and put his arms out, waited for me to hug him.

As I almost passed out from holding my breath I thought, “Oh no! Oh, crap! I don’t have a mason jar with me! Okay, I will give him a quick hug to get this over with and make a run for it! Up the stairs like the jriese diesta (an ogre of the darkness) is chasing me again.”

As I inhaled a breath, slowly moved in closer to him, put my arms around him and slowly exhaled as I realized, “This is nice, I don’t have to be afraid of him. He could have taken me somewhere into the dark and done God knows what to me, but he brought me home. He’s not the bad guy here. I’m the idiot for thinking that every man is going to treat me like my friend’s brother Aaron did ever since I can remember.”

When I loosened my arms, Sam did too and backed up a bit again as he gave me my personal space he said, “I had a great time, thanks for coming, I will see you at work on Monday.”

As I said, “Thanks, Sam, I had a great time too,” he moved in closer and squeezed me another hug, when he loosened his grip he slid his hand onto my shoulder, looked me in the eyes and said, “Have a good night Anna,” and got in his car and drove away. 

I just stood there for a moment and thought, “Well, okay. I’m okay! I’m going to be okay, I think.” And then I remembered that someone could see me and call my mom to tell her that I was out that late, how would I explain this to her? Going to a theater was a big no-no even worse than staying out that late. This was a double no-no for a Dietsche me'jal (German girl.)

When I was too young to even understand what exactly was going on, my older sister had gone to the city of Durango on a Sunday afternoon with our neighbor's girls on a city bus. Word had it that they had gone to a ‘cine’ (cinema) we didn’t even know what exactly that implied, but mom was so mad at my sister for going to the cine, that she wasn’t allowed to talk to those girls for a long time. 

Remembering that scared even the jriese diesta out of my thoughts. My heart began pounding as I ran up the stairs not from the jriese diesta chasing me, but my own conscience. I got inside of my apartment I locked the door behind me and sat in the dark in complete silence for a while until my heart rate slowed down and when to sleep thinking, “What a day! Wow!” Click here to continue reading my story.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Inspired Mennonite

As I thought of something to say, my phone rang. I didn't want to answer it. I really didn’t want my conversation with George to be over yet.

“Aren’t you going to answer your phone?” George asked.

“No, it's okay, whoever it is, they can call back later.”

“What if it's your mom?”

“Oh, crap! I better answer it,” I said, quickly got up and walked over to the phone. George followed me, walked straight to the door and said, “I’ll talk to you later Anna.”

I thought to myself “Sometimes I wish I didn’t even have a phone” as I stood there and watched him walk through the door.

I picked up the phone and said, “Hello.”

“Anna! How are you? It's me, Christina!”

“Hey, Christinaaaa! How are you?”

“I am great! I’m so happy that I moved, I love it here. How are you?”

“Ahhh I’m not sure yet. I finished and passed grade nine yesterday but then I got the pink slip at the end of my shift.”

“What? That’s awesome, congratulations I knew you would pass grade nine! I miss you like crazy.”

“Thanks, I miss you too, but I am so glad that you are happy over there.”

“Anna, don’t be too sad about the factory closing. When one door closes another always opens and usually a better one, that is.”

“I’m so not sure about that,” I answered.

“I have a feeling that you will figure it out.”

“I hope so.”

“What are you up to, what are you doing this weekend?” she asked.

“Ahhh I’m not sure, Sam invited me to go to the drive-in theater to see a movie with him and his friends.”

“What? Anna, that’s awesome!”

“You think so?”

“Yes, Anna, you deserve to go out and have a good time.”

“It does sound like a lot of fun, but I don’t think I should go.”

“Anna, you should go out and celebrate the fact that you finished grade nine, it is a huge deal and life is a way too short. You should enjoy your life where you are now. You never know what can happen.”

“Okay, I will think about it some more.”

“Awesome! I am planning on coming for a visit soon and then we have to go out and celebrate.”

“Yey! I can't wait.”

“Okay Anna, I’ll let you go I have to go to work soon.”

“Okay. What kind of job did you get?”

“I work in a clothing store for now, until I figure out what I want to do.”

“That sounds like fun.”

“It is, I like it. You should see the clothes I get to take home.”

“Nice! I wish I had some new clothes.”

“Thanks, Anna and no worries, I will bring you some when I come for a visit.”

“You will? Thanks. You are the best!”

“You’re welcome hun.”

“Okay, I will talk to you another time.”

“Okay, thanks for calling.”

“You’re welcome, bye Anna.”

“Bye,” I said, hung up the phone and went back to sleep. When I woke up feeling rested, I realized what day it was and then it really hit me, “I passed grade nine!” and I couldn't stop smiling.

I decided that I would listen to Christina and go to the drive-in theatre with Sam and his friends. I showered, put on my best ‘English’ clothes and lip gloss. By noon, I was ready to go, but I still had to call Sam to let him know I decided to go.

I worked up the courage to call Sam, I tensed right up and my heart began to pound out of my chest as I dialled his number. It rang twice and he answered, “Hello.”

“Sam?” I asked.

“Yes, hi Anna, how are you?”

“I’m okay, I think.”

“I am so glad you called, I wasn’t sure if you would, after we all got the boot last night, you know the pink slip.”

“Yes, I was hoping that it was an extra pay cheque instead.”

“Yeah, wouldn’t that have been much better?”

“Yes,” I answered in a low voice.

“So, can I pick you up at around five?”


“Sounds good, see you at five then.”

As I hung up the phone I thought “Oh no! What am I doing?”

I restlessly walked around my apartment not knowing what to do with myself. Since it was such a beautiful sunny day I thought “I am going to take my blanket, my book, go sit under a tree and read. Maybe I can learn more about my nerve problems.”

I had gotten a book about how to cope in a world where you feel like everything you do is wrong and no one understands you, from the library. I was still thinking that I should figure out what was wrong with me. I had been told that I had nerve problems and I believed it.

A couple of pages into the book I realized and I decided that I had discovered my absolute favourite pastime. I knew that I would never be bored again because I could read.

I lay down, took a deep breath, placed the book over my face and thought about what I was going to do. But then I remembered many of the things that had happened to me and how I managed to keep going. Especially after sinking my cousin’s car in the sand at a tobacco field and getting fired because of it. Walking into a classroom knowing that I would have to start a the bottom. A crazy man trying to blow me up. Missing my citizenship test. My nerve problems… my family…and on and on…

I began to trust that George and Christina were both right, that the factory closing wasn’t the end of the world either. I thought about what was most important to me which was going to school and how amazingly empowered I felt that I had actually learned how to read. I felt that I just might be okay, even if I ended up homeless. At least then I would have more time to read.

The thought of spending all my time reading was so relaxing that I dozed off on the boat to Posen Land, on calm crystal clear blue water. Birds chirping, books all around me, the warm geranium scented breeze gently blowing turning pages of all the books that held the answers to my problems. The warm sun shone through the windmill floating around the boat. The mill slowly turning causing the shade to flicker on and off my face, whispering, “fula es wajch, fula es wajch, Anna… (grandpa is gone, grandpa is gone, Anna…) that voice turned into a familiar sounding voice.

I smelled and felt a pleasantly scented familiar presence next to me when the boat slowly began tipping to the left side. I started rolling toward the edge of the boat and just before I fell into the water, I jumped awake.

“Ahhh Anna, this is how it's done,” I opened my eyes and there was George sitting next to me on the blanket.

“Sorry to interrupt. It looked like you were in a calm and peaceful place,” said George.

“Hey, George! Oh, that’s okay, I shouldn’t be napping outside anyways.”

“Yes, you should Anna! This is exactly what I would do, but I didn’t bring my book.”

“That’s okay, here, you want to read a few pages to me?” I asked.

“Sure,” he answered, laid down on his stomach beside me, picked up the book and began to read out loud.

I couldn't think of a better way to spend my time, as I lay there beside him listening to him read to me. I immediately began wishing that this too, would never end.

I thought “Nooo!” when he stopped to look at me, but when he winked at me I thought “Yeah okay…” as he stared at me and the butterflies were trying to fly out of my stomach.

“You look like a different person Anna, you are so beautiful.”

And down when my face turning all red.

“I’m serious, Anna.”

“Well, it's amazing how a shower can wash away so much ugliness and a peaceful nap can bring you back to life. It sure helps to have amazing friends who tell me over and over not to worry and that everything will be fine. Now, I just wish I could figure out how to fix my nerve problems.”

“Anna, can I tell you something? But please don’t take this the wrong way.”


“I think that is a bunch of complete and utter bullshit. You do not have nerve problems. You are a perfectly healthy, normal curious human being who has experienced the loss of a loved one. Who is searching for self-identity in a world that is foreign to you, which you haven't been part of before. That is what anyone would and should do.”

I just stared at him as he continued. “My grandma always talked about her nerve problems and I think that’s how people try and control someone to keep them from really becoming who they are. Especially women, when people fear that they may go off on some journey that in their eyes may not be acceptable.”


“I’m sorry Anna, I don’t mean to get all passionate like this again, but I think you should know that you are an amazingly strong woman and sometimes that scares people, especially in a setting like a Mennonite colony.” I caught myself thinking, “Please don’t stop talking, please don’t stop talking please don’t stop talking…” and he stopped.

“I’m not sure what all of that means but it sounds perfect, you really think there is nothing wrong with me?”

“Absolutely! And any doctor would tell you that. Ask the nurse next time you go to see her. I can guarantee that she will tell you the same thing well, maybe with a bit less passion, though.”

“Okay, I will ask her when I see her next week.”

“Anna, I know many people that want to do what you have done. But because it’s such a frightening thing to do, fear and doubt usually wins. I probably shouldn’t tell you this but you were brave enough to tell me that you thought my teeth were fake, so I am going to tell you this.”

We both laughed and he said, “Remember when I talked to you about going to school the time at the walk-in clinic when you were so frustrated that you couldn’t do the paperwork?”


“Well, I honestly thought that you wouldn’t listen to me or the nurse. Especially after I imagined what that must have felt like. I imagined myself in your shoes and you know what I wanted to do?” 

“Go jump off a bridge?” I asked sarcastically.

“Well, among many other thoughts yes, that one did make a brief appearance too. I felt so bad for you, thinking, about where on earth you found the strength to get to the point where you just walked into the school to face your reality, your fears head on.”

“Really, you imagined all of that?” I asked as my eyes suddenly became watery and itchy as heck.

“Yes, I did, and I can't believe the amount of learning you have done in such a short period of time. I can only imagine what all you will do with that kind of determination. You should know that you’re amazing and I am so proud of you. I’m not one bit surprised that Sam asked you out on a date and I am really… ah… f#ck! Now would be a good time for me to shut up.”

I pretended that I was itching my eyes while I rubbed them, I asked, “Ahhh a date?”

“Yes, a date.”

“I thought if you went out with a group of people then it isn't a date.”

“Oh, it’s a date, Anna.”

“No! Then I can’t go.”

“Yes you can and you should. Go and experience going on a date with Sam, have fun and live the shit out of life. That’s how people here figure out who they are and what they really want in life.”

I quickly sat up straight.

“Ahhh shit I said it again, please don’t beat me up, I do remember. You are ‘Anna Wall from a Mennonite colony in Durango Mexico!’ I’m sorry!”

We both laughed as he continued, “I am only saying that you should go because I know Sam. I know he is a good guy and you can trust him.”

“Why don’t you come along too?”

“Ah no. That would make it weird.”

“How would that make it weird, when his friends are coming along too, you are his friend aren't you?”

“Yeah, but ah… I have to try and fix a hideous tattoo. It's okay, you go and have fun, you can tell me all about it tomorrow if you want too.”

“Ah… okay,” I said thinking I am so confused.

“You enjoy the rest of your day, I have to go clean my place and prep for tonight. I’ll talk to you later.”

“Okay, see you later,” I said and thought, “What the heck just happened here?” Click here to continue reading my story.

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