As I stand in front of the full length mirror, looking at my image, the image of a blossoming
16 year old girl in a plain, pale dress, the gravity of the moment hits me three fold.
One, I am looking in a mirror admiring myself, full of pride, a big no, no. Two,
it is the first day of high school. And three, I can see my bare ankles. Why, you ask are any of these events cataclysmic?
To answer this I must digress to events that led me to this moment. Im
Amish, or was Amish up until this summer. I might even still be Amish; Im really
just not quite sure. My father and I just moved; crazy times. I can tell you we were members of the Swartzentruber Amish, considered ultra conservative even by Amish
standards. Where others could use electricity from time to time, we were not
even allowed the use of battery lights. Our ordnung, or rules of our order,
were so strict, I am pretty sure for every question you could think of, that started with, Can you ..? The answer would be, NO!.
Anyway, my father did the unthinkable, he just up and quit.
Of course, he didnt just up and quit, even though I just said it. Again,
I should digress further.
Just over two years ago my mother passed away. I
was devastated, still am. But, my up-bringing and beliefs allowed me to find
comfort that seemed to elude my father. He just couldnt accept her
death and he became angry. Angry at the others who tried to console him, but
mainly he was angry at God. We were an odd family to begin with. First, there were just the three of us all along. Others had
up to ten or eleven kids but not us. Mother said after me, she was unable to
conceive anymore. I always felt a bit guilty, but not for hurting my mother but
for being secretly happy that I was always going to be an only child. I am sure
these thoughts were a sin. Secondly, we had no extended family in the order. My father joined when he was a young man, just after Vietnam; disillusioned with what the outside world, the Englishers, were doing with technology. Pure evil he would often say. It took
many years for him to be accepted, but he finally was, and this is where he had been every since. But we were very happy. After her death, father tried to maintain
his composure, just going through the motions; milking cows, farming crops while I took over all of mothers duties. Having just finished 8th grade, I was now finished with my formal education. Mother secretly had always wanted more for me. We
would talk quietly, giggle filled whispers of a future we both knew was nothing more than a fantasy. The outside world didnt help. Thanks to the Supreme
Court ruling in 1972 in Wisconsin V. Yoder, the elders now had the constitution on their side for not allowing me to further
my education. Sometimes, I longed to be an Englisher. I think my mother did too. But, my father was
always so strict, neither of us would ever say a word. When mother took
ill and all the old treatments didnt work, father finally rode horseback to a neighbor's, four miles in a blizzard to use
a phone. He said since it was going to be a conversation of purpose he
would be allowed to do so. But it was all too late. By the time a regular doctor got to see mother, the pneumonia had taken her life. Thats when father started doubting it all. Like I said
earlier, father played the part for nearly a year longer before it all fell apart.
We have a word for when teenagers sow their wild oats know as rumm-shpinga,
or run-around. Except, it wasnt a teenage rumm-shpinga but a middle-age-crisis rumm-shpinga. Father sold it all, saying everything on the farm reminded him of my mother, bought a car, a cell phone,
a carton of Marlboros, packed our belongings and we left.
So, here I am in front of my mirror about to start
high school after a two-year break from education. Unbelievably, my father now
works at Radio Shack as a salesman; crazy times. I think he will eventually come
to his senses, but for now this is how he is dealing with his grief and Im okay with that.
I know mother would be happy for me today. She would have stayed up all
night making a special dress for the occasion. A dress I know would not expose
my ankles. As I stare at them, bare, I am ashamed. I feel a bit dirty, but also sexy at the same time. I know
this is insane but, Im not my father. I thought I always wanted to be free from
my life, but being Amish, is who I am. I know no other way. I feel as though I have two sides, a dark side that fantasizes of how I would drive the boys on the farm
into a frenzy. I could just see them talking to me, but their eyes never making
it above my knees, fixated on the sultry flesh, the round firmness of my ankle bones curving outward leading to the cleavage
of where foot meets ankle. An innocent giggle and a slight twirl would raise
the skirt to expose my lower calve. I can hear them breathing heavier as they
stare, pretending to be interested in what I have to say.