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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