There will be some posts coming about our three weeks in the States and our day in Chicago, but for now only one story is relevant.
Two days before leaving, my daughter had an appointment in a hair salon to get extensions braided in professionally. She had found the salon on the internet and the pictures made it seem like quite a nice place. My sister and I drove her to the salon’s address, intending to get her started and then leave, returning 5 or 6 hours later to pick her up. But on reaching our destination, we found ourselves in front of an apartment building. It all seemed a bit dubious to us, as we entered the building on the off chance that a hair salon could be found inside. We saw the front office and its busy receptionist. (Do normal apartment buildings have receptionists?) We saw quite a few people with walkers and wheelchairs. We saw what looked like a gymnasium where two young women were studying at one of the card tables with folding chairs set up in there. On the back wall there were benches and a youngish man sat on one, directly under a large American flag, staring blankly ahead of him. A dashing elderly African American couple – she in her colorful head scarf and he in his royal blue suit with matching hat – walked past us and left the building. They were in high spirits as if on their way to the speakeasy.
As the receptionist was clearly ignoring us, my daughter called the number of the salon again and reached the same woman she had talked to before. It seemed we were in the right place and we should go down to the end of the hall where she would meet us.
En route, my sister and I made it clear that if this was not a salon in a public area then we were all leaving. We weren’t going to simply leave my daughter in some stranger’s apartment.
A stairwell door opened and a middle-aged woman dressed in something reminiscent of pajamas appeared. She ordered us to follow her up the stairs. An awkward conversation ensued. (Thanks again, sis, for doing all the work!) We left again and I dealt with a daughter who was relieved and disappointed in equal measures. It was too late to try and find another salon, so I said,
“Well I watched Lila braiding in your extensions last time, maybe I can just do it myself when we get back home.” That made my daughter happy again.
That statement also had unexpected consequences – one of which is that of the eight days we have been back home, I have spent the better part of four as a hairdresser.
With Daughter One I began with a sense of desperation and the feeling of having too many thumbs. I quickly wished I had paid better attention to Lila. A few YouTube videos and a lot of trial and error later, I started to find my groove. By the time we were done, I had gotten pretty good at it.
Daughter Two looked at the results and envied the way these braids stayed so straight. (She has so much hair, that I have been able to micro-braid it without any extra artificial hair – but her braids then coil up afterward.) We mused about the possibility of doing extensions on her hair too, just as a means of keeping it straight.
Those musings cost me the entirety of yesterday and 3/4ths of today.
BUT!! . . .
I can now show off my masterpiece.