(No worries, fundamentalist weddings 2 is coming, got it 90% finished, just thinking of the small funny details I forgot!)
So, some of you might remember my post about growing up bilingual. I was surprised to hear I’m not the only one! When I was younger, I felt we were the only ones who did this… well, us and the mexicans who could speak spanish and english! Today I want to talk further about what it meant for my life to grow up bilingual.
When I left the movement, I moved to a place not too far from where my parents live. I didn’t have anybody but Beth really. I had never had friends outside the movement, and contacting the ones inside the movement was out of question for me. I still felt very attached to my former lifestyle and I was afraid that I’d be talked back in. I needed time to sort out my thoughts, emotions, desires, and living so close to the community I grew up in made me feel like I could never rest. They have eyes everywhere, and they gossip. I was afraid to be somebody else than who I was before, afraid to hurt my parent’s reputation, and my own.
I realized I had to move again, some place different from where I grew up in – definitely into a different state. I just couldn’t stay there anymore. At the same time, I tried to work out a plan how I could get by, make a living, going back to school and such. I calculated my options and I always ended up with something that would face me with an insane amount of debt and really no idea where I should go. The big cities were no option for me, as I grew up very rural, I was simply afraid that I could not get by in a big city. Plus, I was afraid of big cities due to what my parents thought about them. The few relatives from my father’s side weren’t an option to turn to. My dad is a strong personality, he certainly had told them about my stunts and why would they believe me? They were Christians and had a good relationship with my dad.
Well, long story short, I had no friends, no family, no money, no idea where to go. At some point, I decided to contact my aunt, the one from my mother’s side. My dad didn’t think very highly of her as she isn’t a strong Christian, and she had also spoken against our lifestyle a few times. We were in loose contact with her because she was very important to my mom, but that’s about it. Well, I did contact her and she helped me a bunch. I had no idea of any sort of paperwork and she helped me figure out a lot of options. But I was still faced with the fact that my life wouldn’t be easy on my own, for a girl like me with no education and no idea how the world works. I was getting really desperate.
At that point, my aunt invited me to stay with her and figure out my options in Europe. At first, I was very opposed to the idea. Wouldn’t that whole different culture there be too much of a shock for me? Together with Beth and my aunt I came to a conclusion: It didn’t matter what culture I lived in. Whether I stayed in the states, went to Europe for a while, or moved to Japan even, the shock would be there either way, and probably the same for all three options. After a long time of considering my options, I realized that even if I stayed for only a short while, Europe would still be my best choice. At least I’d have some weeks to get away and sort out my thoughts.
My aunt and I decided I should come over and stay for 3 months. She is financially well off, so I wouldn’t be a burden to her. Her kids are older than me and they are all out of the house on their own, so there was plenty of room left. I was still hesitant, but Beth promised me I could come back and she would help me any time I wanted. My aunt too promised me to get me a ticket back any time I wanted.
Well, so it happened that last fall, I fly over to Europe to see what would happen there. I could stay as long as I wanted actually, because due to my mother’s nationality, I have dual citizenship. My parents were eager to get that for me once I was old enough, thinking it might come in handy at some point, say if I married a man who was missioning a lot.
The first few days I didn’t feel like much of a change had been made. I stayed at home mostly and spent long hours talking to my aunt and her husband, my dear uncle. There was lots of crying, lots of misunderstandings between the parts of the family, lots of sadness. But I felt comfortable, knowing that at least the stress of life was taken off my shoulders for a short while. My aunt tried very hard to get me used to normal culture. She assisted me with driving around, going shopping, going out to eat, going to the movies, all these things. She also explained a lot of basic life rules to me, like what a utility bill is. It felt good to have someone explain these things without making me feel stupid. Two weeks after I arrived, my cousins came over for a visit. The two guys are working and living in different cities with their girlfriends, one is 30, the other 28. The girl, Sandra, who is 25, still goes to university in a far away city but has many many friends around here still. They were really nice and curious, talking to me a lot and just making me feel part of the family. Sandra acted a bit motherly around me and tried her best to entertain me. She introduced me to many people and they took me out with them, never making me feel like I was a burden but much rather a friend.
Sandra’s friends who had siblings my age introduced me to the people who lived around and were my age. Everybody was very welcoming and warm, something I didn’t expect. Though I’m an introvert person, I quickly found a group of people who I was friends with.
Time was passing and passing and before I realized it, it had been three months in Europe. My aunt sat down with me to ask me what my next step would be. I hadn’t even really thought about it yet, I was just too busy enjoying to be a part of a group of people who didn’t put me under some pseudo-biblical law.
After a few days of consideration, I decided to stay longer. I didn’t know how long I wanted to stay, but I knew that I had good options. Suddenly, I had friends and family, something I couldn’t count on back in the states. I decided to stay and try to finish my school until I could go to college/university.
My aunt and I did all the paperwork necessary for me to stay. We figured out my driver’s license would become invalid at the 6-month mark, so I did a test on that to keep it. We made sure I could work and go to school.
We found me a school were I could get my general high school education done, and it turned out to be free because I was still young. Then, we went looking for a small job I could work to support myself to some degree. Since I’m not qualified for anything, waitress was really my only option. I really didn’t want to go to McDonalds because the hours are terrible. After that, I heard that the sister of my cousins friend, Kathy, was looking for a roommate so should could move out of her parent’s house. She’s 24, so it was time for her. I had become friends with Kathy within my first three months so we decided it would be great fun to live together for a while. We found a pretty, quiet apartment in a safe place of town and moved in December.
Well, and that’s pretty much where I am right now. I’m doing my school, working my job and have my friends here at the moment and I’m content with the situation. Of course, life here is much different from life in the states. But it’s alright this way. I don’t know whether I’ll move back to the states when I’m finished with school. There’s a lot of factors I need to watch and I just can’t say right now. I would definitely like to move back at some point and there are days where I feel home sick and I just miss certain things. I think if I moved back now, there’d be thing I miss in the states, just like here, I miss things from the states. But you can’t have the cake and eat it too (or as we say here: You’ve got to die one death). But I’m proud of the small life have built over here and I’m going to enjoy it as long as I can.