Sunday, January 8, 2012

Chapter 16

16.  First Tour Finish
The remainder of the winter tour passed without disaster or misadventure, for which I’m sure my director is eternally grateful.  Landing back in Los Angeles, California was the most exciting thing!  Even though I’d been so sick and had such weird adventures, I still had done my studying and had accomplished my task, faxing home my papers to my mother.  When we landed, I remember calling home.  I think it might have been the first time I spoke to them since leaving the States in January and the emotions just flooded the phone lines.  I was healthy, I told them.  They told me my papers had been submitted and received just fine.  I had received my graduation approvals and my Bachelor’s degree was sitting on my desk at home.  I would be home within a few weeks and we would have a big party to celebrate.

While finishing out the tour with a few concerts in California, Mario and Leigh and I cemented our friendships.  The three of us laughed together and prayed together.  Mario and I also shared a very special friendship with a girl named Nicole*.  Throughout the tour people thought she and I were sisters because we looked so much alike.  God had already mightily used all three of these people to bring healing into my life.  I only hoped that I could reciprocate in a special way to each of them one day.

Before I went home to Michigan for the spring break, I made Mario promise to take me to hear him play the blues somewhere when I came back in a few weeks.  I had discovered that not only did he play trumpet but he had been a local blues favorite playing the harmonica and singing around his area in California.  Having been raised on Southern Gospel, Elvis and praise and worship tunes, I was fascinated.  And so, he rolled his eyes and promised to take me.

When I arrived at the Metro-Detroit airport I was beyond excited to see my family.  I had already changed so much and had so much to share with them.  I talked a mile-a-minute all the way home.  Apologizing to them for the overload, I asked them about life the past few months.  They were teaching at the church and working hard at home.  Mom and April were also attending college classes, getting fabulous grades.  

One of the funniest things was my family’s reaction to my first appearance.  When I left in January, my hair was thick and shoulder-length.  Well, while overseas in the searing hot weather, I had decided to have my friend cut it into a bob-style, just under my ears.  It was very cute and much cooler.  Unfortunately a short haircut needs more constant maintenance.  So, in order to save my friend the bother of spending her day off cutting my hair when we were in Hong Kong I decided to go to a hair salon downtown and pay for it to be done professionally.  

My friend Nicole went with me and we grilled the hair stylist to make sure he understood what style I wanted. And also to make sure that he spoke English.  He insisted, “yes, yes” and began trimming.  He was using a buzz clip and although I thought that was odd I figured it must be a cultural preference.  As Nicole and I chatted, however, I noticed her eyes were growing larger and larger as I watched her face in the mirror.  She was sitting behind me watching him cut my hair.  Finally, she gulped and weakly asked, “are you sure that’s the way you want it, Angel?”  Stopping the barber abruptly, I reached my hand to touch the back of my head and felt….scalp.  

Grabbing a hand mirror, I looked with horror at the nearly bare-naked, freshly shaved back of my head.  I had no bangs in front either, just hair angled down long at my chin and now practically bald at the back.  Mouths wide open, we looked at each other and back to the barber.  He said, “you no like shave?”  And I began to laugh.  Nicole practically had tears in her eyes over my “beautiful hair” and I was laughing so hard.  Signaling to the stylist, I said, “you might as well finish it up now.”

I had not told my family about my new hairdo because I had gotten used to it and forgotten what a shock the first impression was.  And it had already grown out some, it was at least ¼ of an inch back there now.  My Dad and uncle aptly named my new style the “rick-shave”, after I told them of the harrowing rickshaw rides we’d taken, and there was another of my mishaps put down in family history.

Spending that time with my family was incredible and I began to rebuild my relationships with them. I had yet to reconnect with any friends back at home though, largely because I still didn't know if I had any friends left there. And at the time, I didn't care to know. I was more excited to get back to California and spend a few days with my new friends before heading back out on tour.  So, I said goodbye again and flew out to stay with a host family near Visalia.

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