Hair Bows to Head Coverings to Head Bands: A Self-Discovery Story. Part I

I do not talk, much, about my life in Pakistan, except with my counselor because she [at least pretended to] talked me through the psychological dysfunction that came from my time there. Yet, as I prepare to travel to India [a country close – in so many ways], memories I believed were gone are coming back. It’s like someone cracked the lock to the vault of my memory bank, exposing a period in my life that changed me forever. 

Grab your favorite beverage, wrap a blanket around yourself, and travel back in time with me as I recount the events that took me to a country where the soundtrack is a mix between the Muslim call to prayer and honking horns. 

Dang it, I thought, as I threw myself onto the floor of my parents’ basement. It looked as if a hurricane swept through the place with my two suitcases engulfed with every piece of clothing I owed, boxes of tampons, toiletries, more books than I had space for and the DVD box set of Gilmore Girls [something I never left home without]. Preparing to step onto a plane that would take me to what I believed would be my dream “job,” I was packing my life into two 50 lb. bags, just as I received the phone call telling me my visa would be delayed - postponing my departing date by three months. I’d been at it all week – garage sale, putting my car on the market, packing, saying goodbye to friends, and separating myself from my cozy life right in the middle of America [literally]. I needed a break. 

I decided to call my friend C, she’d be happy that my visa would be delayed – she planned to follow me to our new home a few months later. C was a registered nurse, having received her nursing license after failing three times.

Hey,” C said, sounding preoccupied by her work. 

Hey,” I replied less than enthusiastic. “So, I’m not leaving for Pakistan on Wednesday. My visa’s been delayed. 

Wait-- what?!” C asked, her full attention now on our conversation. “Now we can go together! That's great! Um, how are you feeling? 

Fine, I guess,” I said with a hint of depression. “What’s another three months? At least I get to travel with you now and my parents will be happy.” [Moving to a land where Osama Bin Laden could possibly be hiding out wasn’t their first option for their only beloved child]. 

I quit my job as a brilliant barista just a few days earlier. I loved that profession – free drinks on every shift, discounts off shift and a free pound of coffee each week [I’d saved nearly 40 lbs. to take] – and it created an addiction that I can’t overcome, even to this day. It's the first job I ever truly Loved.

But now, I was jobless and waiting on the Pakistani government to approve my three-year earthquake relief visa request. My days moved slowly – consumed with massive amounts of coffee, occasional barista substitutions and Billy Blank’s Tae-Bo workout videos.

Those three months seemed endless -- filled with waiting -- the dread of inevitable goodbyes looming but the impending excitement growing. But soon, I found myself in the airport, surrounded by fifty-seven people – some teary, others joyful – wishing me warm travels as C and I skipped off to the plane and our new lives.

To be continued…