The Trials and Tribulations of a Girl?
A Novel By Teddie S.
Copyright © 2018 Teddie S.
All Rights Reserved.
Aunt Ginny’s house. And back to Albuquerque.
On Saturday Ajie, Kelly, Larry, and I had spent time exploring Albuquerque, and we’d found things that Ajie and I hadn’t found. Then we had a nice dinner at Nunzio's Pizza and then the four of us watched the Sunset from the Sandia Crest.
On Sunday morning we took Kelly and Larry to the airport, and we said so long to them. Then we changed clothes and headed to Window Rock, Arizona and a meeting of the clan at the Tribal Council Chambers.
The meeting turned out as I knew it would. Tahoma Etsitty, the husband of Dr. Etsitty, who is Amy’s preceptor at the university, became the Chief of the Azee'tsoh dine'é (The Big Medicine People clan).
After the meeting, Ajie and I followed my Aunt Ginny to her house. And Aunt Ruth and grandma followed us. It was a little way outside of town but was a very nice house. On the way she drove us past Window Rock, or as the Navajo call it, Tségháhoodzání.
We pulled the three cars into the driveway, and I grabbed the suitcase and camera bag out of the car to take into the house. As we walked up to the door, we were met by my Uncle Gaagii with a “Yá'át'ééh, nizhonigó íiná aadóó hozhónahasdlíí,” (Hello! It is good, and all is harmony around us.)
“Yá'át'ééh, Uncle Gaagii.”, I said.
“Everyone looks happy. Did they choose a new clan chief?”
“Yes. Tahoma Etsitty.”
“That is a perfect decision.”
“I don’t know if it would have gone that way without Kai being there.”, my Aunt Ginny said.
“So she swung the vote?”
“No, Uncle Gaagii.”, I said. “I just stated my view.”
“Did she ever.”, my grandmother said. “She has a way about her that just makes the people see the light.”
“Well, it’s true honey. People listen to you.”
“Come on in.”, my Uncle Gaagii said. “No need to stand out in the heat.”
We walked into the house. This house was as nice as my Aunt Ruth’s house at the resort. Then my Aunt Ginny asked, “Kai, are you and Ajie staying the night?”
“We’d love to. But we’d need to leave fairly early tomorrow so that Ajie could at least make her afternoon class.”
“That would be fine, honey. We only have two spare bedrooms in the house, and your Aunt Ruth and grandma will have those. But you two can have the guest house.”
“Yes, we had a hogan build out back for when we have too many guests.”
“Yes, but it’s been upgraded just a little. No dirt floors and there’s electric to it. But it still has the fire pit and smoke hole in the roof, and no windows. Would you like to see it?”
“Sure. It might be fun.”, Ajie said.
“Bring your things, and follow me.”
I carried our suitcase and Ajie had the camera bag, as we walked out the back door with everyone, and sure enough, there was a hogan in the backyard. No, there were two hogans in the backyard. And beyond that was nothing but desert and mountains as far as you could see. What a view.
One of the hogans appeared to be an older style hogan made entirely of mud over a wood frame. The other hogan was six-sided and built out of logs with a mud-covered roof. The door, facing east, wasn’t the traditional blanket, but a real door.
“Kai, which hogan do you want to use?”, Uncle Gaagii asked.
“Ah.”, I said. “I guess the log one.”
“Good choice. We use the other one as a sweat-house.”
We all walked into the log hogan, and sure enough, there was a fire pit and a smoke hole. Aunt Ginny turned on the lights. Electric lights in a hogan? Yes, but there were only two, one on either side of a large bed with a gorgeous blanket on it. The floor was wood, instead of dirt, and the fire pit was brick lined with brick around it like a circular hearth. And like a typical hogan, there were no windows. But there was a couch and a table with chairs. And an oil lamp on the table.
Aunt Ginny asked, “Well kids will this do?”
“Aunt Ginny.”, Ajie said. “This is beautiful. I love it.”
“I’ll take that as a yes.”, Aunt Ginny said with a smile. “Why don’t you get comfortable and settled in, then come into the main house when you’re ready. We’re having a late dinner.”
“That sounds great. Where’s the bathroom?”
“It’s in the house.”, Uncle Gaagii said. Then as he handed me a key ring with two keys on it. Then he said, “The one key is for the hogan, and the other key is to the back door for an early morning run.”
Everyone left, and I flopped down on the bed. Ajie sat on the side of the bed, and said, “I like this.”
“I’d like it better if it had a bathroom.”, I said.
Ajie and I changed out of our Biil dresses into long skirts and fancy blouses. And put most of the jewelry into the camera bag. Then I said, “Where are we going to put this tonight?”
“It should be safe here. The door has a good lock on it.”, Ajie replied.
After we’d changed, we walked out of the hogan and stood looking at the desert and mountains. And the way the sun was hitting it made it look fantastic. We stood there for a long time just looking at the picture-perfect scene.
Then I said, “Did you see the Sunrise this morning?”
“No.”, Ajie said. “Why?”
“It had some bright reds in it.”
“Still want to stay in the hogan?”
“I don’t know. But we may have storms tonight.”
“I know.”, Ajie said with a sly smile. “But I’ll have you to protect me.”
As we were getting ready to go into the house, I walked back into the hogan and retrieved the camera bag, and took it with us to the house. Am I getting too paranoid about the jewelry?
As we walked into the house, Aunt Ginny saw that I was carrying the camera case, and asked, “Kai, why are you carrying that?”
“It has all the silver in it.”
“You could have locked it in the hogan.”
“I feel better if it’s with me.”
Uncle Gaagii overheard us, and asked, “Kai, would you feel better if it was locked in a safe while you’re here?”
“Yes. Do you have one.”
“I have a gun safe, and there should be room for that bag. Come with me.”
I followed Uncle Gaagii to the basement, and I saw a tall safe against one wall. Uncle Gaagii spun the combination knob, twisted the handle, and pulled the door open. The safe had some long guns, rifles and shotguns, in it, along with a few boxes of ammunition. The safe also had some drawers in it.
I asked, “Uncle Gaagii, why so many guns?”
“We go hunting in the fall for meat for the winter.”, he replied. “And I’ve bought guns over the years and have just kept them. You ever do any hunting?”
“No. But, … ” And I went on to tell Uncle Gaagii about our trip to the cabin in the mountains and Uncle Paul teaching us to shoot. I left out the part about the meteorites. Uncle Gaagii thought that it was an interesting experience.
Then as I placed the bag in the safe, I noticed the badge. And I asked, “We’re you a police officer, Uncle Gaagii?”
“Yes.”, he replied. “I retired as Chief of the Navajo Nation Police Department last year.”
“I didn’t know that?”
“Yes. I don’t talk about it much.”
“So that’s how Uncle Paul knows so many officers?”
“Yes. Plus he’s a big supporter of not only the police department but the local sheriff's office.”
When we came back upstairs, Ajie asked, “Feel better?”
“Yes.”, I replied.
Then Aunt Ginny, Aunt Ruth, and Ajie put a nice meal on the table for us. As we ate, we talked about the meeting, and the ladies picked my brain about Tahoma Etsitty and what I thought about him.
I didn’t tell them everything, but I did tell them that I felt good things about him and if he received the support that he deserved that he’d do an excellent job.
My aunt and uncle also had a fire pit in their backyard, and after dinner, my uncle built a nice fire. Not too big and not too small. And I was surprised that some of the neighbors came over and joined us. Ajie and I were introduced to some nice people that night. Some knew who I was, and some didn’t, but they all treated Ajie and me as friends.
As the Sun was setting, we noticed that the clouds were building to the west. One of the people sitting around the fire mentioned that we’d probably have storms tonight. And I said, “I think that you’re right. The Sunrise this morning had a lot of red in it.”
“So you know that means that there is the possibility of storms?”, someone else said.
“Yes, I learned that a long time ago.”
“This is monsoon season.”, Uncle Gaagii said. “And we could get a good storm.”
“Uncle Gaagii.”, Ajie said. “There’s no such thing as a good storm.”
“Don’t like storms, Ajie?”
“Not really. But I get through them. What about the smoke hole, won’t that let in a lot of rain?”
One of the older men sitting there said, “To those who don’t know, they consider the smoke hole a nuisance as it allows the rain to get everything wet. It is felt by the Diné (Navajo) that when there are no more smoke holes that the old religion will be gone. And, the medicine-men using a ghost chasing chant can chase the evil spirits away through the smoke hole.”
“Ajie.”, Uncle Gaagii said. “The smoke hole in our hogan is designed in a such a way that the rain won’t blow directly in, what rain comes in will drip directly into the fire pit. So if you have a small fire burning, any rain that drips in will turn to steam.
“Kai, you don’t know any ghost chasing chants. Do you?”
“Uncle Gaagii.”, I said. “I’m not a medicine-man.”
“I know. But I’ve heard that you know some chants.”
I looked at everyone, then said, “I don’t. My spirits do. Only medicine-men know and understand the chants.”
An older woman looked at me, and asked, “Spirits! You have more than one?”
“Yes.”, Ajie said. “She has two. She’s a Nádleeh.”
“I … I … I didn’t know. I’m sorry.”
“No need to be sorry.”, I said. “You don’t know who I am.”
“Doba.”, my Aunt Ginny said. “I’ve told you about Kai.”
“Oh! Oh, my! This ... This is that Kai?”, the older woman said.
“Yes, Doba. This is Kai Nez.”
“I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean any disrespect.”
I looked at her, smiled, and said, “You didn’t say anything to disrespect me.”
I took my chair, moved it next to the woman, sat, and talked with her. We talked for ten or fifteen minutes, and when we finished, I moved my chair back over next to Ajie, and I heard Doba say to the woman sitting next to here, “She was so nice. And I felt so at ease talking with her.”
Another woman, maybe a late teen, looked at me, and asked, “Kai, would you mind if I ask you something?”
“No. Not at all.”, I replied. “What’s your name?”
“It’s Mai. Kai, if what I ask you is too personal and you don’t want to answer it, I’ll understand.
“Sitting here listening to you talk with everyone like their old friends. It’s like you’re very at ease with us. And I think we feel the same about you. But we’ve just met you, and you've just met us. So I don’t want to hurt that with what I want to ask.”
“Mai, don’t worry about that. I feel at ease with everyone here. It’s like their old friends. If there’s something you want to ask, don’t worry. Please ask.”
“Thank you, Kai.
“When the new Nádleeh, which I think is you, came into the Nation a few years ago, there were a lot of rumors. One of the rumors was … was that the Nádleeh, even tho she looked like a pretty girl, was a boy. Is this true.”
It got very quiet. Everyone looked at me, I looked at Ajie and smiled.
“Mai.”, Ajie said. “I hope you don’t mind me answering for Kai. But, I’ve known Kai for a long time, actually, since we were in junior high school back in Ohio. And I’ll come right out and say it. Kai is a boy.
“Kai has a powerful female spirit and out here that spirit is even stronger. And the first time we were out here, Kai found herself. She knew what a Nádleeh was, but by coming out here and with the help of a medicine-man she found herself. She discovered that she was a Navajo girl.
“Kai found the spirits that are around the thermal pools, the strong medicine of the Moon, and she’s learned how to use those to the benefit of the people.
“Is Kai a boy. Yes. She is a boy with the heart and spirit of a Navajo maiden.”
Then I said, “One more thing. Ajie understands me better than anyone else. She’s more than a friend. She’s my best friend. She’s my wife.”
There was a long pause.
“Ajie.”, Mai finally said. “Thank you. And, Kai, thank you for being you.”
One of the older men smiled, and said, “Nizhonigó íiná aadóó hozhónahasdlíí” (It is good, and all is harmony around us.)
I smiled at him, and said, “Yá’át’ééh” (It is good.)
Then everyone said, “Yá’át’ééh.”
The Sun had set, and you could see the lightning in the cloud tops to the west. I noticed that Ajie was getting a little nervous, so I said, “I think we’re going to call it a night. It’s been a long day, and we have an early up tomorrow.
“It’s been nice meeting everyone tonight, and we hope that we see you all again soon. One thing that Ajie and I never do is say goodbye. It’s too permanent. So we only say so long. So, hágoónee'.”
It amazed me when everyone echoed my hágoónee'.
Amy and I walked over to the house and took care of our bathroom needs. Then we walked back outside to the hogan. We stood there holding hands and looking at the desert and mountains. Then I said, “It amazes me how the Navajo people accept me as a Nádleeh. And that when they find out that I’m a guy that it appears to have no effect on them.”
“Honey, it doesn’t surprise me.”, Ajie said. “Nádleeh have been part of the American Indian culture forever. And you are just part of the continuation of it. And the people see you like someone special, and they feel at ease with you.”
“You’re right. But, I worry about the outsiders. They have no idea what a Nádleeh is. I’m concerned for us if they see us as a lesbian couple, and what their reaction will be. That guy that attacked me at the resort still scares me. I know that there are other people like him out there.”
“Honey, you’re among friends. And we’ll deal with anything together.”
I looked at Ajie, and said, “Ayóó anííníshní.”
She smiled, and said, “Ayóó anííníshní aldó’.” (I love you too.)
We finally went into the hogan, at first, I turned on the electric lights by the bed, but then I thought, ‘This isn’t right. This is a hogan and needs old lighting.’ I walked over and lit the kerosene lantern, then turned off the electric lights. Then I laid a fire in the fire-pit and lit it. Once it was nicely burning, Ajie said, “I like this.”
“What?”, I asked.
“Oh. The light being given off by the lantern and fire adds an ambiance.”
“That’s a big word for you.”
“Well, it does add an ambiance. A romantic ambiance.”
“Oh. Now, that I understand.”
Then we heard the first clap of thunder. It wasn’t very loud, but Ajie jumped a little. I thought about the last time that I took her mind off of a thunderstorm. I walked over and adjusted the flame on the lantern, then checked the fire and the way I had laid it, it shouldn’t have problems burning for an hour or two.
Ajie had been following me around the hogan as I did things, I turned and looked at her, took her in my arms, and kissed her. Then I said, “Ajie love, I’m going to try and keep your mind off the storm.”
“No.”, Ajie said. “Not Ajie. Not Kai. But Amy and Tommy.”
I looked into those magic blue eyes of hers, and said, “Anything you wish my love.”
I slowly removed all of her clothes, picked her up, and placed her on the bed.
Then I slowly removed my clothes, teasing her with each piece of clothing. She was smiling the whole time. I knew there were claps of thunder, some fairly loud, but neither of us paid attention to them. I got on the bed with her and started with a foot massage, and as I’ve done before, I spent the next hour or so keeping Amy’s mind off the storm.
After what was probably the best session of love-making that we’ve ever had was over, we cuddled together for a little while just looking at each other, then I got out of bed, checked the fire, stirred it up, and tossed a few logs on it. Then I turned the kerosene lantern off. And by the light of the fire, I walked over and crawled into bed with Amy. We kissed again, she cuddled up to me and fell asleep. I soon followed. I know that another storm went through a little while later as I woke up expecting Amy to wake up, but she hardly moved. So I went back to sleep.
Monday morning when I woke up Amy was laying there looking at me, she smiled, and said, “Good morning lover. Last night was amazing.”
“Good morning yourself.”, I said. “It must have been amazing. You didn’t even hear the second storm go through.”
“There was another storm?”
“Yeah. And you didn’t even move.”
“I must have been in another place.”
“Uh huh. Last night you took me to a wonderful place where nothing could bother me.”
After we were up and dressed, I was back to being Tom and Amy was also back. Then we went to the house, made a stop in the bathroom, and made our way to the kitchen, where we found everyone. My Aunt Ginny saw us first, and said, “Well, good morning you two. Did you sleep well?”
“Aunt Ginny.”, Amy said. “It’s one of the best nights I’ve ever had.”
“So the storms didn’t bother you?”
“No, I was cuddled up with Tommy, and I didn’t hear a thing.”
“That’s good. I almost have breakfast ready.”
“Let us help you, Aunt Ginny.”
After we’d eaten and helped clean up, we gathered all of our things, thanked Aunt Ginny and Uncle Gaagii for everything, and headed back to Albuquerque so that Amy could make it to her afternoon class.
We were back in Albuquerque with time to spare before Amy’s afternoon class, so we stopped at the apartment, and put everything away. Amy also called Dr. Etsitty's office and made an appointment for Wednesday. It would be right after her afternoon class.
Tuesday was a typical day for us, but I did take some information on the hiking trails in the Sandia National Forest when I met Amy for lunch. Then after we’d had lunch together, I went to the library, to get out of the heat and to be able to spread things out, and I started to read over the trail information that we had.
As I was digging through all the information, some guy walked up, and said, “Looking for some hiking trails?”
I looked up at him, and said, “Yeah. We’re new to the area and like to hike. And we're still trying to acclimate to the area.”
“So something easy and not at altitude.”
“That would be good. We’ve been up to Sandia Crest and loved it, but felt the altitude.”
“I’d save the trails at the Crest until you’ve been out here for a while.”
“We figured that out.”
“There are some nice trails on either side of the Rio Grande River. There’s even some shade provided by the trees along the river. Then if you like the mountains, the east slope of the Sandia National Forest has some nice trails. And they go from easy, to moderate, to hard. You might want to try the Armijo Trail for a starter. But watch out for the pasture pies.”
“The Armijo Trail is also a horse trail.”
“Oh. Okay. I get it. Pasture pies.”
As he started to walk away, the guy said, “Hope to see you on the trail. And don’t forget to take water.”
“We always take water.”, I said. “Hey, I don’t know your name?”
“It’s Matt Marshall.”
“Hi, Matt Marshall. I’m Tom Young.”
“Nice to meet you, Tom. Enjoy the trails.”
“We will. And thanks for the information.”
And Matt walked away.
Later as Amy and I were walking back to the apartment, I filled her in on meeting Matt and what he’d told me. Amy liked the idea of walking along the river may be in the evenings and hitting the trails in the National Forest on the weekends. And I had to agree with her.
She told me that she needed to spend some time tonight putting together a presentation for tomorrow in which she teaches something to the others in the class. She told me that she had an idea that she wanted to run past me after dinner.
After we were back at the apartment, she started working on her presentation, and I made dinner. After we finished dinner and cleaned up, I became her student.
First, she gave me a little talk on how to correctly interpret what is felt in taking a pulse. And she did that without any notes. She then did an excellent job of teaching me how to take a pulse on the wrist and neck properly. I was surprised on what you could tell about a person from merely taking a pulse.
When she finished, she asked, “Well, how did I do?”
“Good.”, I said. “I learned something.”
“I guess if I can teach you something, I can teach anyone.”
“Just kidding, sweetheart.”
“You’d better be.”
“Let's go for a walk around campus.”
“Sounds good to me.”
Wednesday after breakfast I walked Amy to her morning class and went to the library to read. But I decided to look through the stacks and see what they had on integrated circuits. I found a couple of interesting books, but since I wasn’t enrolled this summer, I couldn’t check them out. So, I took one of them, found a comfortable seat, and read.
Amy and I had lunch together, and we decided that since she was meeting with Dr. Etsitty right after her class, that I should go and do some housework. Clean the apartment, wash some clothes, and such stuff.
I was sitting, reading, and listening to music on the radio when Amy walked into the apartment. Usually, with Amy’s afternoon class being over at two-thirty she’d be her at two-forty-five, but with her meeting with Dr. Etsitty, she was going to be late.
It was over an hour later when Amy walked in the door. By the look on her face, I knew she wasn’t happy. I could feel her anger. So, I asked, “What’s wrong? Didn’t the presentation go well?”
“Oh no.”, Amy replied. “It went great. I even had some good questions.”
“So, what’s wrong?”
“I need to go for a walk.”
“Didn’t you say that there are some nice trails along the river?”
“That’s what I was told. Want to go there?”
“Let's get changed.”
We went up to our room and changed into our hiking gear. I filled our water bottles and put them in a backpack. We tossed the backpack, our cowboy hats, and hiking staffs into the car. And we headed towards the Rio Grande River. I followed the directions I had, and it wasn’t long until we were in the trailhead parking lot after a very quiet drive.
We left our hiking staffs in the car and took only the backpack and cowboy hats. As we started walking, I said, “Okay. What’s wrong?”
Amy didn’t answer right away, but when she did, I stopped dead in my tracks.
Amy had said, "…
Dear readers, Remember authors like comments. And even constructive criticism. Please leave a comment. Want to comment but don't want to open an account? Anyone can log in as Guest Reader -- with a password of topshelf to leave a comment. Thanks.
If you liked this post, you can leave a comment and/or a kudos!
Click the Thumbs Up! button below to leave the author a kudos:
And please, remember to comment, too! Thanks.