This is the thing about America: its citizens are too open. This is why I look at them every day and shake my head. I have too much remorse and pity for some of them. When you sit beside a middle-aged Texan in the economy section of an average-sized plane for fifteen minutes, you will have learned how strong she stood in the face of the breast cancer that took the lives of her mother and great-aunt. Not only that, you will also have realized that her lying cheating piece-of-sh*t ex-husband is currently fighting for custody of their youngest daughter who is still in fifth grade. How can a mother watch her daughter grow under the care of a cheat and his mean-bitch drug-addict rehab-rejected girlfriend, she will ask you. And you’ll just keep blinking your eyes while also praying for a safe, smooth landing of your weary plane.
I recently got a haircut at a not-too-urban salon, a book-your-spot-a-day-before kind of salon. It’s one of those salons that look really small from the outside but are very expensive on the inside. The owner of this salon is a decent brunette who has had three cats adopted since her father passed and has had three mission trips to Mexico since she got out of the shackles called marriage to Ted.
She hovers the clipper around my head a few times and leaves me gasping when she hands my bill to me – well typed on a colorful piece of cardboard-looking paper. Everything with this divorcee is ‘pes-pes.’ But I have had my fun with her and honestly I do not have the right to complain about my bills. She did offer me a taco – the kind I like. But I had to decline.
“So where are you from?”
Of course she will ask me. If she does not, I’ll still be wondering why.
“I like your accent.”
If a conversation starts like that, I can always guess how it will likely end: Me packing my stuff and dragging my feet away, telling my mind that I’ll call my sister and feel relieved, and maybe look up flight tickets to Nigeria. I have been looking up flight tickets to Nigeria every September since I arrived in the States. Somehow, I’m still stuck in Texas.
But the conversation gets interesting after that, and there’s a slight turn from what I am actually expecting.
“So are your family here or back home?”
“I have a sister here. She lives in Omaha with her husband and son. How about you? Do you have any siblings?”
“Well, my sister lives in Michigan with her fiancé. We don’t talk much because I don’t really get along well with her fiancé. I liked her ex-husband better. Haha, he was more handsome than my own ex.”
“Oh. So did you live in Michigan too?”
“Yes. I went to elementary school in Michigan. But when my father passed, we moved with my mom to Florida. And I’ve lived in Florida till two years ago when I decided Texas was the place for me.”
“Nice. Could you go a bit lower? I like to wear my hair really short.”
“No problem. So tell me, what do you study?”
“I study Computer Information Systems. I’m in my third year.”
“Wow! I like girls who study computers. I’m horrible at Math and all the programming stuff you guys do. My boyfriend’s kids always make fun of me. They fix my computer all the time.”
“Well, Computer Information Systems does not involve as much programming as Computer Science. We deal more from a business perspective of Information Technology.”
“Good for you. I wish you luck girl!”
This is the part where I’m patiently awaiting more life history talks.
“What do you miss most about your country?”
“Tell me what your favorite food is.”
“It’s called jollof rice. It’s rice mixed with a bunch of stuff: peppers, onions, tomatoes, local seasoning, and vegetables. It’s really nice. What’s yours?”
“Oh I love love love Italian pasta. Theres a little italian place over on mobberly. They make the best pasta. You should try it. I like their shrimp too. Sometimes I get to see the owner and ask for some of his easiest recipes. I love cooking. You know? I like trying out different recipes from different cultures. My boyfriend’s kids always tell me to be simple and cook cheeseburger. Haha.”
“I love cooking too. So what other things do you do for fun?”
“I like shopping alot. I look online cause I don’t always get what I want in stores. Oh let me tell you a funny story. I met my boyfriend online. On eharmony. And I didn’t even realize we could be together to this point. I was doing my online shopping, trying to get my mind off my divorce, when I saw an annoying popup that asked me if I wanted to meet my life partner within a week. Well, I guess I made the right choice when I grabbed the attorney across the street. He is so amazingly cool.”
This is the part where the conversation gets awkward: she’s done haircutting me, and I want to leave. I have my job to get back to before my boss starts growling, waiting to pounce on me.
“My hair looks really nice. I’ll be back here to texturize it. Thanks.”
And I really mean it when I say I’ll be back.
“So what’s your name?” She finally asks.
At this point, my mind is almost spinning. She doesn’t even remember my name from when I made an appointment with her. I’m still looking up flight tickets to Nigeria. I might get a good deal just in time for my next summer break. Who knows?