lessons in language and bravery

those of you who know me well know that i can be a bit particular when it comes to my hair. after highlights gone orange, brunette turned black, perms bearing a striking resemblance to a cabbage patch doll, cuts so short i had to wear lipstick to remind myself i was a girl, and countless other horror stories i am a bit hesitant to let new people touch my tresses. but it's been 8 weeks since my last hair cut and color which translates into a lot of gray and "cousin it" like bangs. so with as much bravery as i could muster i agreed to have my hair done here, in switzerland, where they (and not i) speak french. we made appointments at jean louis david in geneva. with a school and more than 1000 salons around the world i thought they deserved my trust. so after a debrief (30 minute presentation with pictures, flashcards, and vocabulary quizzes) with my man i felt he was prepared for the challenge of communicating my needs to the stylist awarded the great task of dealing with my neurosis. upon our arrival the stylist to be said, "anglais?" with trepidation i replied, "oui?" and thus began our relationship, in english (sort of). i tried to explain my needs to her...dark brown, cover gray, no red! she explained something to me having to do with l'ammoniac, which i assumed was ammonia, and that since i was doing a dark color i didn't need it so she was going to apply la couleur as a sort of shampoo and she would be adding something natural otherwise my "white hairs", as she called them, would turn orange. ok panic button. shampoo as in going to wash out?and did she say orange?and where is stijn? she assured me that it would last 2 months and i found the word natural comforting so i took a deep breath and we continued.
i am now happy to report that my hair is a lovely natural shade of brown with no gray or orange in sight! le sigh!

i woke up sunday, with no gray hair and feeling younger but with a serious case of homesickness. we had enjoyed dinner the night before with some belgian friends of stijns and hearing them around the table speaking flemish to one another, laughing at things i didn't understand, i began to miss the familiarity of home, of friends and family. i felt half-funny, half-intelligent, half-charming, half-there. i craved the ease of a meal shared with people who know me, who get me, who i can communicate with effortlessly. in an effort to lessen those feelings, my new home and i, made omelettes and watched project runway reminding me of how much i have here. later in the evening we walked to the great escape, for our version of a comet sunday night, a stella, a burger, and a french lesson. after a little lubrication the moment of truth arrived and it was my turn to order a round. i cooly walked to the bar, trembling. i felt like i was suspended upside down in a glass tank, mouthing words through a wall of water and blowing bubbles through my nose. me: "deux stella s'il vous plaît" her: "grandes?" me: "petits". i was so high from my mini conversation that i failed to notice i had left her a 40% tip. c'est la vie, i was learning, creating a home, making new traditions, and finding my way in this beautiful life of mine.