Continued from Illusionary Mennonite
“I know, I miss you too.”
“What are you doing, are you busy, can you come over right now?”
“Ahhh no, I'm not busy right now. Okay, I’ll be there soon.”
After I hung up the phone, I realized that this time I might not be able to talk my way around my plan to pretend that I was lesbian without telling George the truth about Aaron and thought, “I really hope I don’t have to explain it to him. It's just too complicated for me to even attempt to put it into words.”
I quickly changed my clothes and ran down the hallway to George’s apartment. He greeted me with his usual perfect smile and a long comforting hug. It smelled so good and familiar in his apartment.
“It smells amazing in here. What are you making?”
“Okay, let's see if I can actually tell you. Um, I am making roasted chile poblano and chicken quesadillas with pineapple salsa.”
“Wow! You are roasting peppers, how? Don’t you need an open flame to do that?”
“Not necessarily. It works great with a cast iron pan. See look it says right here in this ‘Learn how to cook Mexican’ cookbook I picked up at the library.”
“Isn’t it? Can you believe it? Me, the same guy who cooks Mr. Noodles with hotdog slices and cheese wiz, is learning how to cook Mexican food from a library book.”
“Um yeah, I can. The library is amazing. I wish I could live there.”
“So, how the heck are you? I haven't seen you in so long. I got worried a few times and wanted to visit you but I know that you were probably out there meeting new friends and figuring it all out by yourself,” he said as he brought the food to the coffee table.
“Well, you are right, I have been meeting now friends and figuring some stuff out on my own. Sort of.”
We sat down on the gray pillows at the coffee table in his living room, just like the last time I ate there. He put down the forks and waited for me to say my prayer and held his breath as he watched me take the first bite.
“Ay caramba, George, are these ever spicy. This is amazing! Thank you.”
He let out a big sigh of relief, “Is it even close to Mexican?”
“Yes! It sure is. It’s great, I love it.”
“Awesome! So what kind of food do you make that isn't Mexican? I mean you must make some German dishes too. What kind of other foods do your people eat?”
“Well, tweeback would be one of them. You know the one you ate at my place when you came over the time I was wearing my favorite ‘purple dress.’”
“Oh yes, I do remember that time. Oh man, what a day that was, the food you made was delicious,” he said and I turned red all over, as we both laughed about again.
“Well, a lot of the German food that we make is mostly things made of white flour and heavy cream. Like this one recipe my mom calls ‘doompwuchlen.’ You make the tweeback and let them rise, then you steam them with a little bit of oil so they don’t stick together and serve them with schmoont fat, which is heavy cream that you bring to a boil with a bit of vegetable oil, salt, and pepper.”
“Wow, how nutritious. Would you eat anything else with it?”
“Sometimes, smoked meat or sausage.”
“So, what have you been doing other than learning how to cook Mexican food?”
“Not much, I am really enjoying some peace, you know away from all the grumpiness at the factory, and I have had more time to draw, which I am enjoying a lot.”
“Yeah, I know. I was so sad for a while but I am realizing now that having this extra time is actually really nice for me too.”
“So, who are these new friends you met?” He asked and my heart started pounding faster as I tried to explain it to him.
“Um… so her name is Tony. I met her in computer class, you know the class where I learned that the world might be ending soon.”
“Yes, you don’t really believe that. Do you?”
“Well, I have learned so much here in Canada. I'm not even sure what I believe. But all this talk about the world ending has made me realize that I think it's time for me to go home to Mexico for a visit.”
“Okay, do you think that you are ready for that?” he asked as he got up, picked our plates up and took them to the kitchen sink.
“Yes, I think I am, but I am really nervous about it.”
He came back with two plates of dessert and the placed them on the table. I looked at the dessert and immediately regretted it as I heard myself say it out loud.
“Yes! No watermelon.”
He looked me right in the eyes and said, “Anna, I am your friend. I know better than to feed you watermelon,” and winked at me.
I turned all red as the butterflies began dancing around in my stomach. I thought, “Quick, change the subject Anna!” and asked, “So what is this then?”
“Did you make this too?”
“No. I can't take the credit for this. I bought it already made. Would you like a coffee?”
“Yes, please. Wait there is cheese in this cake?”
“Yes, cream cheese.”
“Wow, I have never had cake with cheese in it before.”
“Well, I hope you like it. I happen to love cheesecake,” he said as he put my coffee down in front of me. He sat down and stared at me with one eyebrow raised as I took the first bite.
“So, what do you think?”
“It’s different, but I like it.”
“Awesome! So have you figured out how you will go to Mexico?”
“Well, that’s the thing, I know I can't go with someone because then I wouldn't have a guaranteed ride back. So I called the travel agency but it's crazy expensive to fly to Mexico but then I told Josh about it and he suggested that I call back and ask to be put on a last minute ticket sale list, so I did.”
“That’s a great idea. I really hope that works out for you.”
“Yeah, me too. I think it just might because I think I have found a way to make some extra money.”
“Okay, that’s great but how?”
“Tony, the woman that sits next to me in computer class offered me her cleaning job.”
“It’s a farmhouse just outside of town here.”
“Oh, and how much will they pay you to clean it?”
“I would clean it once a week and it pays forty dollars a cleaning.”
“Okay, not bad. Not bad at all.”
“Yeah, but there's this problem, its two single guys that live there and you know...”
“Ahhh… shit yeah I know. But not all single men you meet will take advantage of you, you know.”
“I am trying to think like that, but I can't help but worry and wonder if they might be like Mark or Aaron?”
“Well, you won't know until you meet them, right?”
“You're right and that is a big part of the reason I need to go back to home to Mexico.” I said as I thought, “you don’t know the half of it,” and started mumbling and asking him questions so the conversation would lead in a different direction because I didn’t really want to explain my plan or the truth about why I was so afraid of Aaron.
He put down his fork and placed his hand on top of mine and said, “Anna, it's okay, you don’t have to tell me about the Mexican cowboy. I have a pretty good idea of what is going on. Just know that I am here if you ever need to talk about it,” and squeezed my hand as he looked right at me.
I didn’t know where to look or if the feeling that went all the way down to the tip of my toe was a feeling of relief or nervousness. Or that a man like George was real and I was at his place having dinner with him.
I peacefully enjoyed the rest of our time together as I felt relieved knowing that I was in a safe place and that I didn’t have to do or say anything I didn’t feel comfortable with. That night I didn't flee from his apartment like the jriese diesta was chasing me. When I was ready to go, he walked me to the door and I hugged him. I said thank you and walked out of there looking back to wave bye to him a few times. I saw him standing in the doorway smiling and waving back at me as I walked away. I thought, “this is so much better, I can’t believe he is still my friend after all those time I ran away like that,” and felt really embarrassed about it.
Josh came with and helped me get a passport without a hitch. I was ready to go to Mexico. All I had to do now was to be brave and go to that house with Tony and lie to these men so I would feel safe cleaning their house to make some extra money for my trip home. I spent many sleepless nights worrying about it but when the day finally arrived, Tony and I went ahead with our plan.
Tony came to school on the Friday with a bottle of Pine Sol in her backpack. We drove to this farmhouse and she introduced me to the men as her new girlfriend. Jason and Roy didn’t even seem to care. They were just happy that someone was willing to clean their house. I could see why, when I first walked in and helped Tony clean it. Before it smelled like a Pine Sol bomb when off in there. It was a disaster. I had never seen a house that messy before.
They paid us and gave me a key to the house and said, “Thank you, Anna, it’s really nice to meet you. We will always leave the money on the counter for you every Friday so you don’t have to wait for us to come home when you are done the cleaning,” Jason said and just like that, I had a new job that I could do with less fear and more confidence.
My new life was great. I sat beside a great friend in every class, including my longtime buddy and note taker Steve in English class. I had made friends with yet another scary man that I was afraid of, PJ, the man that sat beside me in math class. His answer to everything was ‘wicked.’ He dressed only in black, wore black nail polish, and had a really tall mohawk. I had learned to appreciate his uniqueness because he was nothing but respectful and kind to me.
I had two imaginary boyfriends: One for real (Josh) and the other (George) in case I might meet another stalker and then I could say that I was not available. And I had an imaginary girlfriend so I would be off-limits altogether and didn’t have to worry about it anymore. I had a regular routine again, with so much homework, studying for tests, writing essays and cleaning that house every Friday. I had forgotten that I missed my factory job. That was until I received a letter in the mail from Sam.
My heart was pounding out of my chest with wonder as tore that letter open. It didn’t take long and I was on the floor in tears with laughter. It was a punctuation-less letter written in Spanish. Sam’s letter triggered me to remember the factory, Hilary and all of the policemen that worked on my stalker case. And then I had a lightbulb moment. I realized how many incredibly amazing men I had met since my journey in Canada began.
I laid on the floor and cried when I realized the George was right yet again. Click here to continue reading my story.