A week ago we heard from Saloma Furlong on her new memoir Bonnet Strings: An Amish Woman’s Ties to Two Worlds. Today, we have our two book winners, along with an excerpt and a pair of photos from Saloma’s early days outside the Amish.
Bonnet Strings Winners
#120, Melissa Nicolaysen
#149, Wendy (social media entry)
Congrats, Melissa and Wendy. Send your mailing addresses to firstname.lastname@example.org to have your books sent to you.
Bonnet Strings: An Excerpt
Author’s Note: This scene takes place the morning after a vanload of Amish arrived at my doorstep in Burlington, Vermont, to take me back to my community in Ohio. I had taken the name Linda when I left the Amish and moved to Vermont; now I needed to become Saloma again. Here is what happened that morning.
David arrived at the Church Street Center soon after I got there with Sarah and Ada in tow. Like two shadows, they were following my every footstep. […]
David tried to give me meaningful looks, and then he motioned for me to follow him as he sauntered over behind a curtained-off area. He sat down and asked, “Is this what you really want?”
I already felt like a deer in the headlights, but before I could answer, Sarah and Ada came and stood next to me, one on each side, with their arms folded across their chests. It seemed the turmoil I felt inside would wrench my heart in two: David and the nights in the parlor on one hand, and the overwhelming presence of the Amish on the other. David gave me a look that seemed to beg me to give him some indication of my feelings. Sarah and Ada were also giving me looks, but of another kind. I felt as though I was caught between two worlds. I would have to keep my heart well guarded or else David would see what I felt inside: a tornado twisting and turning. I handed the two tickets to David that I’d gotten the night before from the theater group and said, “You may as well have these.”
David took them hesitantly.
“I need to say goodbye to Barb,” I said, and walked over to her desk.
My bonnet got in my way when I hugged Barbara goodbye. She toyed with my bonnet strings as she said, “Ah, Linda, I’ll probably cry tonight, when I am all alone. I am going to miss you!” I had to go out the side door of the Church Street Center before I would burst into tears. I turned and waved to Barb. I got a glimpse of David, but I could not bear to see the look in his eyes. I turned and left.
I was heading to the bank with my two shadows just behind me when David called out to me. When I turned around, he came up to me and said, “I wanted you to have my address,” and he handed me a folded-up paper. I could tell there was something folded inside, but I took it and tucked it into the pocket of my dress and said, “Thank you.” I paused and then said, “By the way, my real name is Saloma.”
“Saloma. That’s a different name.”
I turned to leave, without hugging him, without acknowledging all those nights in the parlor, without even admitting to myself that any of it happened.
“Will you shake my hand?” David asked my back.
“Sure,” I said. I turned around and shook his hand. David tried to look me in the eye, but I would not return his gaze. “I will always remember you,” David said. He was trying to break down the façade that he knew I was hiding behind. Perhaps I was wearing my Amish demeanor along with my Amish clothing. David could not reconcile the two Lindas or, more accurately, the Linda with the Saloma. In that moment, when David held onto my hand and told me he would always remember me, my façade nearly did collapse. I had to turn away. . . .