The Trials and Tribulations of a Girl?
A Novel By Teddie S.
Copyright © 2018 Teddie S.
All Rights Reserved.
A hike. A hairdo. A barbecue and bonfire.
Amy and I were going hiking, so it was back to the room to change into the appropriate clothes. Shorts, loose blouses, wool socks, hiking boot, and our new cowboy hats. I had Amy do my hair in a ponytail, and then we walked over to my aunt and uncle’s house, and my uncle loaned us a couple of canteens and hiking staffs.
We spent part of the morning hiking a couple of the trails behind the resort. Then we had an early lunch before getting ready to drive to Santa Fe. We both dressed in long skirts, cute blouses, and moccasins. And we took along the headbands that we had and the butterfly barrette hair clip, just in case Mrs. Hatathli wanted to use them.
We parked in front of the building that was shared between Mrs. Benallie, who owned and ran the clothing store, and her sister Mrs. Hatathli who owned and ran the beauty shop. There was only one door for both businesses, and we walked into the clothing shop and were warmly greeted by Mrs. Benallie who said, “Hi girls have you come to do some more shopping?”
“We’d love to.”, Amy replied. “But we have an appointment with your sister to do our hair.”
Mrs. Hatathli must have heard us, because she walked over from the other side of the shop, and said, “Hi girls. I see you are right on time. Come on with me, and we’ll get started.”
We followed her to her side of the building and the beauty shop. Mrs. Hatathli wanted to do my hair first. So, I said, “Do you want to work on my wig with it on my head or off?”
“Wig?”, Mrs. Hatathli said. “That’s not your real hair.”
“No. Like Amy, I’m a blond. But I feel better, when I’m out here, with black hair.”
“That’s an excellent wig. But with a closer look I can see that it’s a wig, but with just a casual look you can’t tell. So you're a natural blue eyed, blond. I know of another Navajo girl with blue eyes and black hair, so I didn’t question it.”
“You know that my mother is half Navajo. And with my father being white. I ended up with blond hair, blue eyes, and a dark complexion.”
“That explains it.”
As Mrs. Hatathli worked we talked and most of it was about two spirit people and me. She started with my hair, really my wig, Mrs. Hatathl took it off of me, washed, and conditioned it. Then while it was drying she worked on Amy’s hair. I tried to talk Amy into dying her hair black. And she wouldn’t do it.
Mrs. Hatathl put Amy’s hair into a fancy single braid with thin black and white leather strips woven into it. She used the butterfly barrette at the top, and a beaded leather wrap, with feathers attached at the end. And as she worked on it, she told us that a single braid indicates a married girl.
After she’d finisher with Amy, she put my wig back on me using a wig cap and a number of bobby pins to hold it in place. Then she did two fancy braids with thin leather strips of red, yellow, turquoise, and black woven into it. As she braided my hair, she told us that the four colors represent the four sacred mountains. Mt. Blanca, Mt. Taylor, San Francisco Peak, and Mt. Hesperus, and that these four mountains were placed by the Holy People causing the land of the Dinè, or Navajo, to be created. And the four directions are represented by four colors. White represents the east, turquoise the south, yellow the west, and black the north.
At the top of each of my braids, she placed a small silver Concho with turquoise inlays. And at the end of each braid, she used a fancy leather wrap with feathers hanging from them. And the braids hung over the front of my shoulders.
When I looked in the mirror, I just stared, her work was exquisite. And she’d done a great job of hiding my blond hair. Amy smiled when she saw it, and said, “Mrs. Hatathli, your work is fantastic.”
“Thank you.”, Mrs. Hatathli replied. “I do the hair of a few of the local girls that dance in competitions. So I’ve had a lot of practice. And I'm very pleased with the way your hair turned out.”
I paid and tipped Mrs. Hatathli, and I know she didn’t charge us enough for what she did. Then Amy and I headed back to the resort.
When we were back at the resort, we stopped at my aunt and uncle’s house, and my aunt was home. We walked in, and my aunt smiled when she saw us. Then she said, “Mrs. Hatathli did a wonderful job on your hair. You two look fantastic.”
Amy quipped, “Yeah for a blond.”
“Honey. It doesn’t matter what color your hair is. It looks great like that.”
“Thanks, Aunt Ruth.”
“You know.”, I said with a grin. “I tried to talk you into dying your hair black.”
With a frown, all Amy said was, “No way!”
Then looking at me, my aunt said, “And you young lady. When’s the ceremony?”
“Ceremony?”, I asked.
“Yes. You look like you're ready for your iigeh.”
“Well, you do. Your hair is very fancy. And I’ll bet you’re going to wear the white Biil dress tonight.”
“She’s right Kai.”, Amy said. “Want to get married again?”
I looked at Amy, and said, “I’ve married you twice. And I’d marry you again.”
“Twice!?”, Aunt Ruth said.
“Didn’t mom tell you about the fake wedding where I was the bride?”
“Oh that. Yes, she told me. I would have loved to have seen that.”
“They took pictures. I’ll send you some copies when I get home if you want me to?”
“I’d love to see them.
“And Amy. Honey. Would you like to borrow some of my jewelry for tonight?”
“Could I!?”, Amy replied.
“Of course. I'll be right back.”
As Aunt Ruth walked out of the room, Amy turned to me, and asked, “Would you really marry me again.”
I took Amy by her shoulders, looked into those gorgeous blue eyes of hers, and said, “Amy. I would marry you again, and again, and again.”, And I kissed her.
Aunt Ruth was back in a few minutes with a wooden box. She set it on the kitchen table, opened it, and said, “These should help you look fantastic.”
Amy and I looked in the box, and Amy said, “Thank you, Aunt Ruth. I really appreciate it.”
I carried the box for Amy as we walked to our room. As we walked into our room, and I set the box on the table, I felt a tap on my shoulder. I turned, Amy wrapped her arms around my neck and kissed me. When we broke the kiss, she said, “I just can’t get enough of you.”
“I know.”, I replied. “I just love being with you. Doing things with you. Sleeping with you.” And as I went to kiss her, I added, “And kissing you.”
She stopped me kissing her by putting a finger on my lips, and saying, “We’d better stop, or we’ll miss the barbecue.”
I grinned, and said, “I wouldn’t mind.”
“Everyone would miss you.”
“Yeah. I think everyone enjoys what you bring to the barbecue.”
“What I bring?”
“Yeah. A pretty Navajo girl.”
“Yeah. With a boy underneath.”
“So what. I don’t care. And I don’t think that those who know you care.”
I think you can figure out the way that Amy and I were dressed when we walked out of our room. But, I’ll tell you anyway. Amy was in a long plain white skirt and a beautiful maroon velvet blouse. She also wore the moccasins that I had given her. As far as jewelry goes, she wore one of the beaded chokers that we’d been given, a silver Concho belt, a squash blossom necklace, a silver and turquoise bracelet on her left wrist, and some silver and turquoise rings.
And as my aunt had guessed, I was wearing the white Biil dress and my new wrap moccasins. I wore the beaded choker that was a duplicate of the one that Amy was wearing, a squash blossom necklace that was a different design from Amy's, and a Concho belt also a different design than Amy’s. I wore the silver and turquoise bracelet that my aunt had given Amy and a few rings.
Our earrings were the matching ones that we’d gotten from Mrs. Benallie.
As we walked from our room to where the barbecue was, there were the usual looks from the people we saw who were heading in the same direction. When we were there, we looked around at the people who were there. My grandmother, aunt, and uncle were there, as were Naainish and Chief Todachine. Even my Aunt Ginny and her husband, my Uncle Gaagii, who we called Uncle Gary, were there. A pleasant surprise. But we couldn’t spot Patty or Ralph.
The drummers, singers, and flute player were doing their thing. And it sounded very nice. And I saw a couple of girls walking around that I figured were dancers.
My aunts, uncles, and grandmother were talking with a few guests, so we walked over to Chief Todachine and Naainish, and I said, “Yá’át’ééh alní'íní, Chief Todachine and Naainish.”
They turned and looked at us, and Chief Todachine said, “Yá’át’ééh alní'íní, Kai and Amy.”
Naainish smiled and said “Yá’át’ééh alní'íní, girls. It’s good to see you.”
“And it’s good to see you and the Chief.”, I said.
“You two look very nice tonight.”, Chief Todachine said.
“Thank you, Chief.”, Amy replied.
“You’re welcome. When are you two going back home?
“Could I ask a favor?”
“Of course Chief?”
“Would the two of you have time to meet with Chief Kinlicheeny, Naainish, myself, and a few members of the Tribal Council before you go?”
Amy looked at me, and I said, “I don’t see why not. But why?”
“Chief Kinlicheeny wants to know more about you, and some members of the Council would like to meet you.”
“Okay. I guess. When?”
“How about nine tomorrow morning?”
“That would be okay. Where?”
“You know the remote hogan beyond the round barn?”
“Of course. That's where we first met Naainish?”
“How about there?”
“Okay. Nine o’clock at the remote hogan.”
Then I asked, “Naainish. The tree that I was standing by for the picture that’s in the hotel lobby was destroyed by lightning the other night. And when we went there later I felt that I needed to take some of the remaining wood. Then at the bonfire that night I felt that I had to toss a piece of that wood into the fire. Why?”
“Kai, remember that there is strong medicine in the area of the bonfire. And you felt the spirit of the tree. That spirit needed to be released. And by placing that piece of wood in the fire, you released its spirit.”
“Just remember that our people believe that everything has a spirit.”
I just nodded yes.
Then we excused ourselves and walked over to where my aunts and uncles, and grandmother were. After saying hello, I asked my Aunt Ruth and Uncle Paul if they had seen our friends Patty and Ralph, and they hadn’t.
Amy said, “Maybe they’re having too much fun in Santa Fe.”
“Or maybe they’re lost.”, I said with a little smirk.
“Ralph did seem a little overconfident.”
“More than a little.”
Then I asked, “Grandma. Do you know why the Chiefs and Naainish want to meet with us?”
The way she said, “No honey. I don’t.”, Told me that she did. Hmm.
Then, like she wanted to change the subject, grandma said, “Girls. You both look fantastic. Your hair is amazing.”
“Thanks, grandma.”, Amy said. “Mrs. Hatathl did it for us.”
We kept watching for Patty and Ralph, and they weren’t there by the time Naainish started the prayer. And I was a little worried because they were both excited about coming to the barbecue. But just as we were getting into the line for food, I spotted them walking in.
I pointed them out to Amy, while saying, "There's the wanderers." And we walked over to them. As we walked up, Patty said, “Sorry we’re late. But mister, I never get lost. Got us lost. We left Santa Fe in plenty of time to be back here, but he had to take a shortcut.”
“Yeah.”, Ralph said, “At least we had the map and found someone to ask.”
“It surprised me that he stopped and asked someone.”
“You haven’t missed much.”, Amy said. “They just started serving the food.”
Patty then gave Amy and me a good looking over, and said, “I can’t believe how great you two look. Those outfits and jewelry are amazing. And your hair. Wow!”
I saw Amy smile and then say, “We always try to look our best at these. Kai does it because she really feels her Navajo blood when we’re here and enjoys dressing up. I do it because I love the clothes and like to feel part of the people.”
“I’d love to get a skirt and blouse like that.”
“If you weren’t leaving tomorrow we could take you to the shop where these came from.”
“I know. I wish we were staying longer. But we need to be in Boulder tomorrow afternoon. Ralph has a late afternoon meeting at the weather bureau’s research center there.”
“Business while on vacation?”
“Yeah. But it’s only for one day. Actually one evening."
We were at the end of the food line, and Ralph said, “I sure hope it won’t be all gone before we get there.”
My uncle, carrying a full plate of food, had heard him, and said, “Don’t worry. There’s plenty of food.”
With a smile, I said, “I don’t think so, Uncle Paul. Not looking at all the food that’s on your plate.”
My uncle just frowned at me.
After we’d loaded our plates with food, we sat and enjoyed the food, music, and dancers. I was hoping that we’d see Dee again and she was here. The dancers did different dances then last time, except that two guys were doing the hoop dance, one was a young boy, and he did a great job. Both Patty and Ralph were amazed that they didn’t get tangled up in the hoops.
After she’d danced, Dee came over, and gave me a big hug. And everyone complimented her on her dancing. She told us that she had won an individual dance the other night and her group had won their group dance.
Then Dee thanked me again for donating the money to her scholarship. After Dee had walked away, Patty asked me about the donation, and I told her about giving the money that I had made for the photo shoot and why I’d done it.
Patty looked at Amy, and asked, “Is she always this way?”
Amy smiled, and just said, “Yes.”
We finished eating, and my Aunt Ginny said, “Kai. Honey. I have something for you.”
“Aunt Ginny.”, I said. “I’m never going to be able to repay you, Aunt Ruth, and everyone else for everything that you’ve done for us.”
“Honey. I did this not only for you but for all of us.
“I’ve been doing some research in the library in Window Rock and found something interesting things.”
Aunt Ginny took a picture frame out of her bag and handed it to me. It was a copy of a very old black and white picture of an old Navajo man working with silver. And the caption to the picture said, ‘A well know Navajo silversmith, Kilchii Nez, at work.’ I felt a chill.
I just looked at Aunt Ginny.
Then Aunt Ginny said, “I researched our ancestors and found some interesting things. This silversmith is your great-great-grandfather.”
“Kilchii Nez was my great-great-grandfather?”
“Yes, honey he was. Look on the back, and there is a family tree going back to him.”
I flipped the picture over and looked at it. The chart started with me and went back as far as Kilchii Nez. Then I looked at my Uncle Paul, and asked, “Uncle Paul. Did you know about this before you gave me the last name of Nez?”
“No. Kai, I didn’t.”, my uncle said. “It just came into my head that night at the bonfire.”
I just sat there and couldn't say anything. But Amy said, “Aunt Ginny. This is so interesting. You did a lot of work.”
“I was lucky.”, Aunt Ginny said. “There were some good records kept by some families, and we had them in the library. And once I found his name, I checked the index of old pictures that they have, and there was one of him. There was no date on the picture, but we figure that it was taken in the late 1800’s or early 1900’s.
“I did one of these for each of us. So I have one for you to take home to your mom.”
With tears in my eyes, I looked at my Aunt Ginny, and said, “This is so sweet, Aunt Ginny. I’ll treasure this forever.”
“Honey, don’t cry.”, my Aunt Ginny said.
“I’m sorry. But it’s just so special.”
I walked over to where Aunt Ginny was sitting and gave her a big hug.
We passed the picture frame around, and everyone had a good look at it.
Then Patty whispered to Amy and me, “Is there someplace where I could talk to you two alone.”
Amy said, “Sure. Is there something wrong?”
“No. I just need to talk to you.”
Before we could get up, Naainish walked over, and I introduced everyone. Then Naainish said, “Kai. There will be a haniibaaz tonight.”
I looked at him a little puzzled, and asked, “Haniibaaz?”
Naainish smiled, and said, “A full Moon. It’s the small harvest Moon.”
I looked towards the east and noticed that the Moon was just rising.
“Going to the bonfire.”, Naainish asked me.
“Yes.”, I replied.
“May I join you?”
Naainish then just walked away.
Patty looked at me, and asked, “What was that all about? Naainish. He’s a medicine man, and he asked if he could join you.”
“I know. I guess I should be asking him.”
Amy stood, took Patty’s hand, and said, “Come on Kai. Patty wanted to talk to us.”
The three of us walked off to a secluded spot, and Amy said, “All right Patty. What’s wrong?”
“Nothing.”, Patty replied. “But ... “
“But what honey?”
“Well, Ralph and I didn’t get lost. We stopped someplace and talked.”
“Yeah. You see, he likes you two very much.”
“And you had to talk about that?”
“No. It’s something about Ralph, and he wanted me to talk to you two.”
“Patty it’s not like you to not come right out and saying what’s on your mind.”
Patty looked at me, and said, “Kai. Amy. Ralph, like you, is a private person. And he's taken a liking to you. And he wants you two to know about him. ... ”
A few minutes later we were walking back towards the barbecue area. We could hear the drummers and singers. We heard them stop and the flute player began a solo that was very pretty.
We walked up to where Ralph was sitting by himself. When he saw us, he looked at us in a way that said he was worried about what had happened when we had our talk with Patty. Patty said, “Honey. Don’t worry. Like I told you, these two are very open-minded and accepting.”
Ralph appeared to relax a little. I sat down next to him, we looked at each other, and I said, “Ralph. Don't worry. As Patty said, Amy and I are very open-minded. And we accept people for who they are.
“And like I said when we first met, I’m not going to judge you without knowing you. And I now feel that I know you, and I like you. And you’ve accepted me for who I am.
“What Patty told us makes no difference to me, and I don’t think it bothers Amy either.”
“No.”, Amy said. “I don’t have a problem with it. You are who you are.”
“Thanks, guys.”, Ralph said. “There was just something that told me that I should tell you. And that you’d understand.”
“Patty told us that you’ve been doing it for a long time. And that you even tried to stop and couldn’t. She told us that she had accepted it as it just being a part of you.”
“Yeah. At times it's been hard. But Patty, in understanding it, has made it easier. I’m lucky to have her.
“Kai. Earlier when I first learned about you. I thought why can’t I be like her. She looks so good, and at ease with who she is. But with me being six-two and built like a football player it’s tough to look like a girl.
“But in learning more about you and your two spirits, I realized that you’re different. When you become Kai, you feel her. You are her in mind and soul.”
“You know Ralph.”, I said, “When I first met you I was getting mixed feelings. And I couldn’t figure out what it was. And now I know.
“I do consider you a friend. And we just happen to know something about you, that you’re a cross-dresser. So what. You are who you are.
“Why don't we go and watch the dancing and then go to the bonfire.”
We enjoyed the music and dancing for a while. Then I noticed the full Moon was now well up in the eastern sky, and something was calling me to the bonfire. So I said, “Why don’t we head over to the bonfire.”
We had to walk past the bonfire to get a blanket from our room. But as we were walking past the bonfire, I saw Naainish standing where I liked to sit. He looked at me, raised his left arm, and he had a blanket folded over it. I looked at him, and he raised his arm again.
I walked over to him, and Naainish said, “I know you like a blanket to sit on. So I brought one.”
He spread the blanket on the ground and offered me his hand. I took it, and he helped me sit. Then he sat down next to me.
My uncle walked up, knelt down, and said, “Kai. Naainish. I told the other people here that this is a sacred place for our people. And I’ve asked them to make this a whisper zone while you’re here.”
I looked over at the group of guests and said, “Thanks, Uncle Paul.”
My uncle then stood and walked to where Amy, Patty, Ralph, my aunt, and grandmother were standing.
I was feeling the strength of the medicine here. Naainish and I sat there in silence for a few minutes, then Naainish started to chant. It added to what I was feeling.
We sat there for fifteen or twenty minutes. Then it felt like it was time to get up. I stood, and so did Naainish. Naainish then said, “Thank you for allowing me to sit with you.”
“Naainish.”, I said. “Why are you treating it like this is my place?”
“Because it is your special place.”, he replied. “The spirits seem to like it when you’re here, Kai Nez.”
Naainish then picked up the blanket, folded it, placed it on his arm, and started to walk away.
I asked, “Naainish. Why?”
He turned, looked at me, and said, “Kai Nez. No one knows why the spirits do things.”
Then he turned and walked away. I turned and walked to where Amy, Patty, and everyone else was standing. No one said anything until I said, “That was interesting.”
“What’s that, honey.”, Amy asked.
“Naainish just told me that this was my special place.”
“It just might be.”, my grandmother said.
“It was amazing.”, Patty said. “The whole time that the two of you were sitting there it was so quiet that you could hear the fire crackling, Naainish’s chanting, and nothing else.”
“Yes, honey.”, my grandmother said. “It seemed that everyone here knew that this is a special place. And while you and Naainish where sitting there they treated it like it was.”
“It felt like no one else was here, only Naainish and me.”, I said. “I could only hear his chanting and the crackling of the fire. And it appeared that the Moon was filling the sky.
“And he used my full name when he talked to me.”
“It was out of respect for you.”, my grandmother said.
As I said, “Respect?” I looked in the direction that Naainish had walked, and saw that he and Chief Todachine were talking. And I just stood there looking at them. Amy had been quiet but then asked, “Honey. What’s wrong?”
“I’m not sure anything is.”, I replied. “I just need to go to our room.”
We said goodnight to everyone and headed to our room. I didn’t want to see or talk to anyone, so to try and avoid everyone I led Amy in a roundabout way to our room.
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