The Trials and Tribulations of a Girl?
A Novel By Teddie S.
Copyright © 2018 Teddie S.
All Rights Reserved.
From Santa Fe to a barbecue.
Friday morning I was lying in bed watching Amy sleep. I just smiled.
Amy finally started to wake up, she rolled over, looked at me, smiled, and said, “Good morning love.”
“Good morning, Mrs. Young.”, I replied.
“Why so formal?”
“I just like the sound of it.” And I kissed her again.
We got up and noticed that it was still dark. I asked, “Do you want to watch a Sunrise this morning?”
“I’d love that.”
We got dressed. Yes, I dressed as Kai. It just felt right. Shorts, a blouse, and hiking boots. Moccasins aren’t comfortable on these trails.
We went out into the house, and my aunt and uncle weren’t up yet. So we were quiet as we left the house. We hiked up the cliff trail, and at the top we were alone. Alone except for the morning calls of the coyotes.
We stood there with our arms around each other and watched as the first rays of the Sun came up over the eastern horizon. We heard someone else walking up the trail, and looked over to see a young couple. They saw us and looked surprised. I heard the guy say, “I thought we’d be alone.”
I smiled at them, and said, “Sorry. This is one of our favorite places when we’re here.
“There’s a spot on the other side of those big rocks if you want to be alone.”
“Thanks.”, the guy said. And as the couple walked towards big rocks the guy showed us a ring box.
Amy whispered, “Young love.”
We stood there until the Sun was completely up and then we headed back to my aunt and uncle’s house. When we walked into the house, we found that my aunt and uncle were now up. My aunt said, “I thought you two were still sleeping?”
“No.”, I said. “We needed to see the Sunrise.”
“I should have guessed.”
My aunt was making a typical New Mexico breakfast of eggs, beans, red chilies, and chorizo sausage. Amy and I helped her, and as we were eating, my aunt asked, “So, what are you two up to today?”
“We’re going to run over to Mrs. Benallie’s shop. Then maybe look around Santa Fe for a while.”, I replied.
“Want to go shopping with us?”
“No. I’ve got too much to do around here today.”
“Uncle Paul, do you want to go with us?”
He looked at me, frowned, and said, “No.”
I smiled, and said, “I figured that you’d say that.”
After we’d helped clean up after breakfast, we went and changed for the day. Amy went with shorts and a light blouse. I went back to being Tom, shorts, a button shirt, and my hair still in a single braid. Amy told me that I looked like some of the native guys that she’d seen when we were out here before.
As we were leaving, I asked, “Uncle Paul, are you sure you don’t want to go shopping with us?”
He didn’t say anything. He just scowled at me. I saw a smile on my aunt’s face.
A little bit later we were parking in front of Mrs. Benallie’s shop just outside of Santa Fe. There were also a few other cars there. We walked into the shop, and we saw that Mrs. Benallie was helping another customer, she looked at us, and said, “I’ll be with you shortly.”
“Thank you.”, Amy replied. “We’ll just look around.”
We looked around, and I was more interested in the skirts, blouses, and other woman’s thing than in the men’s things. Amy saw that, and said, “Later with the girl's stuff. We’re here for a guys look.”
“Oh. All right.”, I grumbled.
Just then Mrs. Benallie walked over, and asked, “What can I help you with?”
Then looking at Amy, she said, “Wait. I thought you were a new customer. But I know you.”
“Yes, you do.”, Amy replied. “You have a good memory. And it’s been a year.”
“Yes, I always remember good customers. A year. ... Wait. You were in here with four other ladies. And you were also with the girl that’s a Nádleeh. Her name, I think, was Kai, wasn’t it?”
“Yes. Her name is Kai.”
Looking around, Mrs. Benallie asked, “Is … Is she with you.”
“In a way she is.”
“Where is she?”
“Standing about two feet from you.”
Mrs. Benallie looked at me, shook her head, then said, “No. No. Can’t be. … This a boy.”
“Yes, he’s a boy.”, Amy said. “Were you sure Kai Nez was a girl?”
“Yes. … I think … maybe. But I did hear rumors.”
“Rumors of what?”
“That the Nádleeh was a boy. Oh my! You are.”
I smiled, and said, “We love those earrings that Sike Yazzie made, and that we fought over. And then you came up with a matching pair.”
Mrs. Benallie shook her head again, and said, “You were a beautiful girl, and you are a very handsome man.”
I just smiled.
Then Mrs. Benallie smiled, and said, “This is so interesting. What can I do for you?”
“We’re here for two weeks this summer.”, Amy replied. “And we’re going to be traveling around the area, and Tom, by the way, this is Tom Young, is not comfortable driving as Kai. So we’re looking for clothes that a regular twenty-something Navajo boy would wear.”
“Honestly, the boys wear jeans, shorts, shirts, and things like that. So the way he’s dressed right now would be acceptable. You could add a ribbon shirt to fancy up the look.”
“A ribbon shirt?”, I asked.
“It’s not made out of ribbons but has ribbons of fancy work on it. Here let me show you.”
We followed Mrs. Benallie over to a rack of shirts, and she took one off the rack and showed it to us. And I liked what I was seeing. Then she said, “Go ahead and look through them and see if you can find one that you like. I’ve got to go and get someone.”
As she walked away, I said, “I wonder who she’s going after?”
“I’ll bet that it’s her sister.”, Amy replied.
“I bet you’re right.”
We looked through the shirts, and both of us liked what we were seeing. I liked them so much that I picked out two that I thought was my size and went to the changing room to try them on.
When I came back out of the changing room after trying on both shirts, which by the way fit very nicely, Amy, Mrs. Benallie, and Mrs. Hatathli were standing there. They saw me, and Mrs. Hatathli looked at her sister and said, “Chooli, I thought you told me the Nádleeh was back there.”
With a grin, Mrs. Benallie said, “He was. Now he’s out here.”
“Wait. He? When I did her hair, she was a girl.”
“Was she really a girl?”, Amy asked.
“I sure thought she was.”
“I did too.”, Mrs. Benallie said. “But it looks like the rumor that we heard was true.”
“Dee never told you?”, I asked.
“No. Did she know?”
“Yes. I guess Dee can keep a secret.”
Then I asked, “Mrs. Benallie, do Navajo men have their ears pierce?”
“Oh yes.”, Mrs. Benallie replied. “Even in the old days, they did. They used hoops and things like that. Why?”
“Both of my ears are pierced, and I keep small studs in them. Kai, of course, likes all kind of earrings. But what could I wear that would look good as a native guy?”
“I have some things that I think would look nice. Come with me.”
We followed Mrs. Benallie to a sales counter, and she took out a card with some very lovely earrings on it. All of them looked to be silver of various shapes, rounds, ovals, squares, and triangles, with turquoise inlays of some kind. And they would look good on Kai too. I saw a couple of pairs that I just loved. So, I asked Mrs. Benallie if I could look at them. She asked me which ones? So I pointed to them, and as I pointed to one pair, Amy said, “Brat. I was thinking of getting those.”
“Don’t fight.”, Mrs. Benallie said. “I just happen to have another pair like those.”
As Mrs. Benallie was getting the other pair, Amy said, “Those would even look cute on Kai or Tammy.”
“I was thinking the same thing.”, I said.
Amy and I both bought two pairs of earrings. The identical pair was a diamond shape with a turquoises inlay. My other pair was a small oval pair with turquoise. Amy’s other pair was a triangle pair.
I changed my studs for the pair of diamond shaped ones. And while doing it, I looked at the back and saw a familiar maker’s mark. I smiled, and said, “That maker’s mark is familiar. It’s Sike Yazzie’s isn’t it?”
“Yes.”, Mrs. Benallie said. “I carry a lot of his work.”
“I can understand that. He does great work.”
Along with the four pairs of earrings, we ended up buying the two ribbon shirts that I had picked out, plus a pair of white linen pants for me, and another fancy blouse for Amy.
Mrs. Hatathli was going to take her lunch break, but she happily agreed to re-braid my hair and talked about a good look for my long hair. So, we went over to her beauty shop and talked about my hair while she braided it.
We had decided, that since it’s so long, that doing it in a braid would be best for me out here when I was Tom. And she also showed us a picture of what’s called a tsiiyéél, it’s a hair knot, and I didn’t like the idea of the tsiiyéél.
Amy said, “You could just cut it a little shorter.”
Both Mrs. Hatathli and I looked at her, and Mrs. Hatathli said, “No. To a Navajo, our hair is our culture, our memories, and our choice.”
While we were sitting there, I was thinking about the barbecue later tonight. And I asked, “Mrs. Benallie, would you have time later today to put my hair, or Kai’s hair, into fancy braids for the barbecue?”
She sadly looked at me, and said, “I’m sorry honey. But I’m already overbooked this afternoon.”
“That’s all right. We’re going to be here for probably two more barbecues. So, maybe next time.”
As we were leaving, we were standing at the door talking to both Mrs. Hatathli and Mrs. Benallie when we saw someone drive up. I recognized them, and said, “This should be interesting?”
“Why?”, Amy asked.
“Look who just drove up.”
Amy looked out the door and said, “It’s Dee.”
Just then Dee walked in the door and said hello to the two ladies, then stopped dead in her tracks. She looked at Amy, and said, “I know you.”
Amy just smiled.
Then Dee’s face just lit up, as she said, “It’s Amy. Isn’t it?”
“Yes.”, Amy said. “You remembered.”
“I’ll never forget you and Kai. Wait. Where’s Kai?”
I smiled at her, and said, “Right here.”
She looked at me like I was crazy. Then she started getting a smile on her face Then she said, “Kai! Naainish did say that you were a boy.”
“I am that.”
“I didn’t think it was possible.”
“I guess it is.”
Right then and there I got a huge hug. And Dee said, “Kai. It’s so good to see you!”
“Better make it Tom.”, I replied. “At least for now.”
“Tom or Kai. Whatever. I’m so happy that you came back to see us.”
“We’re here for two weeks. And we’re going to see some of the area.”
“That will be fun. Will we see you at the barbecues?”
“We’ll be at the one tomorrow.”
“That’s great. I’ll be there too.”
“Are you dancing?”
“Are you doing a dance competition in the next two weeks? We’d like to see you dance at one.”
“I’d love that.”, Dee said. Then she said, “Mrs. Benalli, do you have one of the fliers for the next competition?”
“Sure.”, Mrs. Benalli said. And she walked over to the counter, picked one up, and brought it back to us. She handed it to me, and Amy looked at it over my shoulder. Then Amy said, “It’s in Taos in three Saturdays.”
“I think that we can make that.”, I said.
“That would be wonderful!”, Dee said.
When we said so long, it was with hugs.
We went into Santa Fe and wandered around. And that of course included some window shopping and real shopping. We noticed all the older buildings. This town was founded in the early 1600’s, and of course, most of the buildings were adobe. We found the old church that was now a history and art museum, and that was very interesting. And we stopped at a small Mexican restaurant for lunch, and we were not disappointed with the food or service.
Later that afternoon we drove back into the resort and parked at my aunt and uncle’s house. When we walked into the house, grandma was the first to see us, and she said, “Where’s Kai?”
I said, “She’ll be here soon, grandma.”
Just then my Aunt Ruth walked up, and said, “Hi you two. How was Santa Fe?”
“Great.”, Amy replied. “It’s a fascinating city.”
“It is. And I’ll bet you didn’t see all of it.”
“No bet, Aunt Ruth. We’ll probably go back.”
“Amy, honey.”, my aunt said. “Would you let me do something with your hair?”
“Sure, Aunt Ruth.”, Amy said.
“And Kai you go and change, and we’ll do your hair later.”
“Okay.”, I said. “But I can do my own hair.”
“I know honey. But give me a chance. Okay?”
“Okay, Aunt Ruth.”
Amy and my aunt walked back towards the master bathroom. And I went to our bedroom to change. I stripped and put on my special panties, my bra and forms. Then came the white Biil dress along with the wrap moccasins. I know Aunt Ruth wanted to do my hair, but I fixed it. I went with straight hair down my back and a fancy headband. Then added some very light makeup. I opened the safe and took out our jewelry and set it on the bed.
When I walked back out, my Uncle Paul was there, and he said, “Hi, Kai.”
“Hi, Uncle Paul.”, I replied.
“Back with Aunt Ruth getting her hair done.”
Shortly Amy and Aunt Ruth walked into the kitchen. I took a good look at Amy, and Aunt Ruth had done an excellent job on her hair. She had redone Amy’s braid with ribbons intertwined in it. It was still laying on her left shoulder, but the beaded butterfly barrette was now at the top of it and a fancy leather wrap with turquoise and feathers at the bottom.
Amy was wearing the red Biil dress and Aunt Ruth’s wrap moccasins. She was also wearing her concho belt, one of the beaded chokers, a pair of the silver feather earrings, a silver and turquoise bracelet, and a couple of rings. She looked sharp.
My aunt grabbed my hand, and said, “Come on Kai. It’s your turn.”
My aunt led me back to the bathroom with Amy following us. When we got there, my aunt said, “It’s going to be easier working on your real hair then it was working on the wig.”
With that, my aunt went to work on my hair. She removed the headband and brushed out my hair. Then she put it into two fancy braids that went over the front of my shoulders. Both had different colored leather strips woven into them. At the top of each braid she placed a small fancy beaded barrette, at the end of one braid, she placed a leather wrap with feathers, and at the end of the other braid, she placed a leather wrap with beads hanging from it. Then she took and placed a fancy braided leather headband on my head that had two feathers attached, which hung down the back of my head.
Amy looked at me, and said, “Kai, honey. Your hair is fabulous. I don’t think that Mrs. Hatathli could do any better.”
With a little laugh, Aunt Ruth said, “Don’t let her hear you say that. She’d never let me back in her shop.”
Amy and I went back to our room to get my jewelry. Amy took the bone choker with the concho and fastened it around my neck. Then I took the other concho belt and put that on. I followed that with the squash blossom necklace, a few rings, a bracelet, and the silver feather earrings. And we put the rest of the jewelry back in the safe.
Amy or now Ajie, and I walked back to the kitchen, and my grandmother and uncle were waiting for us, and he had changed into what I call a fancy dress. My grandmother said, “Girls you both look so pretty.”
“Thank you, grandma.”, Amy said. “And you look very nice also.”
“For an old lady maybe.”
“Grandma.”, I said. “Stop that. You are not old.”
“Kai. You’re sweet. But I am old.”
I just shook my head.
When my aunt joined us, she was in fancy dress too. And the five of us started walking to where the barbecue was held. As we walked, my uncle said, “The dancers became such a hit that we’ve started having them every week.”
“Did you bribe them with food?”, I asked.
“Of course. And they fight over which dancers are coming.”
As we got closer, we began to hear the music. And we saw others heading the same way. I saw the same looks that we had always received when we were here and dressed as we are. We got smiles, nods, and a few, “I love your outfits.”
As we entered the barbecue area, it looked the same. The tables. The food tables. An area for the dancers. The singer. The drummer. The flute player. I don’t know why, but I felt at home. But something didn’t feel right. I don’t know what. Something just wasn't right.
I whispered to Amy, “Something doesn’t feel right.”
“What?”, she asked. “Is there someone here that could be a problem?”
“No. It’s something else. I just can’t put my finger on it.”
I looked around, and I saw some old faces and some new faces. And I knew that there would be one face missing.
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