Thursday, May 23, 2019

Outlandish Mennonite


Continued from The Girlfriend

When I opened the door, George had a similar reaction at the sight of me as he did when he saw me in my purple dress.

“Holy shit, Anna—you, you, look, I mean you are beautiful! Wow!” he said.

“I would say all kinds of things to the contrary, but you see, I have this amazing friend who taught me to say ‘Thank you’ when receiving compliments such as these.”

As he walked toward me, he said, “Hmmm, I wonder who this amazing friend might be,” and gently wrapped his arms around me, pulling me against his body.

I invited him in and proceeded to tell him that my imaginary gay husband had gone shopping with me and chose the outfit for me.

“Oh, Anna, are you still dreaming about that?”

“Yes, especially after this weekend. I just love him so much.”

“I know.”

“He is so good to me, he accepts me as I am, and expects nothing in return. Do you know how rare that is?”

“Yes, I do. I understand perfectly. I’m not surprised that you have such a strong connection with Josh.”

I just stared at him as he continued, “I am happy for you, and I feel honored to have had the pleasure to watch you grow into this healthy, strong, beautiful young woman I see in front of me.”

“Thank you,” I said, while briefly allowing myself to enjoy the feeling of my butterflies traveling down my body to my toes.

“You’re welcome, sweetie,” he said and winked at me.

That was the most beautiful moment I had experienced in the presence of a straight man. I held on as long as I could, until I had to find a way to distract myself so that I could maintain control of my actions.

“Can you believe this?” I asked as I handed him my report card.

“Yes, I can.  This is not surprising to me at all.  I knew you had it in you.”

“Thanks for believing in me and encouraging me to go to school. I am so close to finishing. I only have one semester left.”

“I know, isn't it amazing?”

“It sure is.”

“What are you going to do after you finish school?”

“Look for a job immediately. Do you think I could apply where you are working?”

“You could, but I think that would be a big mistake.”

“Why?”

“Because I think you should keep going and go to college right away.”

“I would love to, but first of all, I don’t think I could do it, and second, I don’t even know what I would study, and third, I have no money. I need to work to support myself.”

“That’s a load of crap. You can so do it, and you could apply for OSAP.”

“Mabe one day I might apply to go to college, but they probably won't even let me in if they find out that I started kindergarten at the age of nineteen, and besides, my handwriting is still terrible. It's going to take me years of practice to get better at it.”

“Stop talking like that, Anna. Do you even know how far you have come in such a short amount of time? You are an unstoppable force, Anna Wall. You can do anything! I wish you could see that!”

“Thank you! I must admit I am afraid that I will get depressed again after I am done school and get back to working some meaningless job. I am terrified that I will lose everything that I have worked so hard for.”

“But you know how not to let that happen, right?”

Before I had a chance to come up with an answer, my phone rang, and it was Mom. “I’ll talk to you later in the week,” whispered George as he let himself out.

Mom sounded happy while she told me that she was hearing from multiple people in the colony about how I was helping people everywhere and how grateful they were for what I was doing.

“That’s so good to hear. I’m so glad. Thank you for telling me that.”

Dots goat. (That’s good.) Your aunt is no longer angry with you or giving me a hard time about you. When she heard how you have been helping people, she said we do need brave people like you. She just doesn’t understand why you are so Utlaundtch (Outlandish).”

I did a little inner happy dance as I thought, “Utlaundtch? Now that I can work with! But wait! I might have to read the English definition of ‘outlandish’ in the dictionary first.”

She never even mentioned a “schwiennoagel” or anything. She shared with me how much easier life in the colony was becoming since they had electricity in their homes, and the fact that church leaders from La Honda Zacatecas had come to hold church regularly again.

She told me that she was no longer that concerned about me going to public school in Canada anymore, since my brothers were getting older and not listening and often leaving the colony. “They are spending so much time with Mexican people, and half the time, we have no idea where they are or what they are doing.”

“I’m sorry,” I said in English, because it loses its meaning when you say it in Low German. And continued in Low German, “That must be hard for you.”

“Yes, it is.”

“I have three months of school left, and then I am done.”

“Okay,” she responded and asked when I might come home again.

“I would love to come home again soon, but that will all depend on how quickly I get a job after I’m done school.”

“Okay, I have to go now. We’ll talk again soon,” she said and hung up the phone.

I sat down on the floor and spent a moment thinking about the fact that I wasn’t feeling the guilt I had always felt after speaking with Mom. I pondered the idea that the new Anna could be capable of turning her energy toward loving Mom. The feelings were deeper than I had ever before allowed myself to experience, thanks to the influences that had brought me to that moment.

By my last semester, I had figured out my learning style, and because of that, it was my best semester. I enjoyed every minute of it and was sad that it was coming to an end.

During a weekend with Josh, I opened up to him about my feelings for George.

“You love him, don’t you?” asked Josh.

“Yes! How could I not?”

“Yeah, that was a stupid question.”

“What do you think, Josh. Should I tell George that I’m in love with him?”

“I think that has gone beyond words.”

“True.”

“George knows and feels that you love him.”

“Really?”

“Anna, it's so obvious.”

“Oh, shit!”

“No, no. It's not a bad thing.”

The tears started rolling down my cheeks. Josh turned to me and cupped my face with his gentle, soft hands and said, “Anna, I have gotten to know you really well, and I am very good at reading between the lines. I think you have a lot of stuff to work through before you are ready for a serious relationship. I’m just telling you what I see. I mean, do you even know what you want in a relationship?”

“No.”

“You have the most beautiful thing going with George. Why put boundaries and labels on that? More often than not, that’s when relationships become complicated and often get ruined. Love should be free like yours is; that’s how it can grow so strong that nothing can ever break it. That’s just what I have learned. I say go on loving him as you have been, at least until you are absolutely sure of what it is that you want.

When he saw that my tears had become a stream, he hugged me and said, “I’m sorry that this hurts you, Anna. I’m only telling you because I know about this, and I care about you. I'm watching you change faster than a jet can fly, and don’t get me wrong, it’s all very good—you of all people need that time to fly free and discover yourself, then let the dust settle with yourself first.”

“It's okay. I'm only crying because you are right. I am not ready at all. I have no idea what I want. I think I have figured it all out, but I know that I have only collected the tools necessary to work through my issues. I am still so trapped between two worlds, and until I can fully surrender to becoming one with both, I don't know what I want. But he's just so, so, so...”

I think you are looking for the word, “Exquisite.”

“Yes!”

“I know, right? Too bad he's straight.”

“Ummm…”

“Just kidding.”

“Well, that’s why I want to trap him before someone else does.”

“Anna, never ever trap him. Let what you have with him fly free, and it will always be exquisite. You are so lucky that he landed in your life as he did. I wouldn’t change a thing. He will be that in your life until you change it. And who knows where you'll end up when you have had a chance to blossom into your full potential.”

“I’m not sure what you just said, but it’s beautiful.”

“Right?”

“Oh, man! You are the best. I’m so glad I talked to you about this. Thanks, I feel so much lighter now.”

“I’m so glad, and you’re welcome.”

“I love you.”

“I love you too, Anna.”

I took Josh’s advice to heart and cherished each moment I spent with George even more after that.

I applied for a factory job at a temp service halfway through my last semester. I had an interview two weeks before final exams and accepted a job offer. I was to start a month after finishing school. During final exam week, my cousin Izaak surprised me with his appearance at my doorstep.”

Primo!” I screamed as I hugged him.

“It's so good to see you, Anna.”

“You too, Izaak. What are you doing here?”

“Well, dropped off some menones (Mennonites), and I’m here to offer you a free ride to Mexico.

Ha li dietschjat! What?”

“What do you say, wanna drop everything you’re doing and go on an adventure with me?”

“Yes! Yes, I do! Wait! You mean like right now?”

“Yes.”

“But I have one more exam to write before I'm done school. Can you wait until tomorrow?”

“Sure, yes, of course, I’ll wait.”

I was bursting with excitement. I didn’t know what to do with myself after Izaak left, so I visited George.

“I have one exam left. Can you believe it?”

“Yes, I can, Anna!”

“I can’t.”

“Well, you better start because it's true.” 

“I am so happy!”

“I am happy that you're happy! You so deserve this happiness,” he said, and hugged me.

I told him about the opportunity I had, and almost felt like I needed permission from him to go to Mexico with Izaak.

George was thrilled for me. He hugged me again and said, “Holy shit! That’s awesome, Anna. I’m so jealous.”

I hugged him back and asked, “Hey, you wanna come?”

“That would be so f#cking awesome, but I can't take time off work right now.”

“Okay, maybe another time.”

“Absolutely! I would love to go to Mexico with you,” he said.

“Okay, I’ll see you when I get back.”

“Sounds good. I’ll be here doing the same thing as I have been my whole life. F#ck! My life is boring,” he said.

After handing in my final exam, I hugged every one of my teachers and told them that I would be forever grateful for the gifts of their time and patience that it took to be my teacher. I felt I owed my freedom to them.

“You don’t owe us anything. You did all the work. You take full credit for that, Anna,” one of my teachers said and continued, “You can pick up your final report card in two days.”

“Would it be okay if you mailed it to me?”

“Sure.”

“Can I call you in a couple of days to ask what my final mark is over the phone? I am leaving for Mexico later today, but I will be dying to know if I passed.”

“Anna, there’s no need for you to call me. You passed with flying colours!”

“I did?”

“Yes, you did!”

“So, this is it?”

“This is it, Anna.”

“That’s it? I did it? I’m done?” I yelled.

“Yes, you did it, you are done, and I’m very proud of you.”

“Thank you!” I said and hugged her again.

“I don’t know what to do with myself right now!” I explained.

“Go on. Get out of here, go to Mexico and celebrate. You deserve it.”

“Thank you! I will. Okay, bye,” I said and ran home.

I packed my bags and a pile of books instead of knives this time. I called the house that I cleaned and left a message that I would be away for a while.

Izaak drove, and when he didn’t talk, I read. I felt like I had made it. I felt as free as a bird.



“Nobody is 
superior, nobody 
is inferior, 
but nobody is 
equal either. 
People are simply 
unique, 
incomparable. 
You are you, 
I am I.” Osho

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