Friday, November 26, 2010

Rejoice Always: My Chinese Family

Can I be honest with you? When I was growing up and imagined what my husband would look like, Jeff was NOT what I had in mind. Inundated with Disney movies, I think I imagined myself with a man who is white, tall and dark (hey, be honest, you don't usually dream of marrying someone that looks VERY different from you or the people in your family of origin.) God had different, and much better, plans for me.

While I'm being honest, I have to admit that when Jeff and I briefly broke up while dating, one of my reasons was, "My kids will never look like me!" I know it sounds egocentric, but truth is that Jeff's dark, Asian features are going to dominate all of the recessive-ness that is ME. And, let's continue to be honest ladies, as a future mother, you long for your children to look a LITTLE bit like you, right? Alas, I'm glad that this shallow quality didn't keep me from marrying my Jeff.

Today, I had quite a unique experience. I've been talking about getting my hair cut and colored for months (I have WAY too much gray hair for a 24 year-old.) Jeff's mom was the last person to cut my hair back in June, and I was long over-due. All of my friends, who also happen to be Asian, always tell me, "Go to Flushing, you'll get a great, cheap hair cut/color!" (Flushing is an area in Queens, NY that is heavily populated by Asians.) So, today, Mrs. Chin took me to her hair salon.

I don't have high expectations for my hair. As long as it's long, it's manageable. And, in terms of color, I just don't want to have BLACK or RED hair (it's really hard to get a dark brown color without the end result looking black or red.) When I walked in, I was a little intimated because the three hair stylists were only speaking Chinese. It's a little unsettling when you can't speak the main language of the person who is about to cut and color your hair. Eeek. Gratefully, Jeff's mom CAN speak Chinese and assured me that she communicated my desires for my hair to Janet, the hair stylist.

The haircut was fast, and exactly what I wanted. Phew, I was relieved. Then, as they started to color my hair, Jeff's mom explained to me that the hairdresser went to beauty school in Japan and they use different products compared to American salons. My anxiety started to grow as the color on my hair and scalp slowly turned purple. I kept asking Jeff's mom to communicate with the hair stylist that I didn't want purple hair - was my hair going to be purple?

I think Janet and the other workers sensed my anxiety. So, they brought me back to the hair washing station. I started to think, "Hmmm, are they washing the color out? What are they doing?" They laid me down, put a cold rag on my eyes and brought out a hand-held massager (like the ones they sell in Brookstone) and massaged me for the 40 minutes of hair-processing time. A little weird, yes. Just imagine: I'm in a salon, where no one speaks my language, with my eyes covered and the last visual I have is of my purple hair. There came a point when I thought, "Screw it! There is nothing I can do anymore!"

My hair ended up looking great AND I really enjoyed spending some quality time with Jeff's mom. She is so sweet and a great translator :)

As I was reflecting on my experiences with Jeff's family, who are obviously of a different culture than I am familiar with, I feel really thankful that I have this time in New York to learn more about Jeff's identity and family of origin. I have begun to understand him, and love him, a little bit better. And, back to the man I once imagined myself with versus Jeff, I am starting to find myself thinking, "Ohh, I truly hope my babies look more like my husband. Asian is so beautiful. My friends are so beautiful. My husband is so beautiful." (Jeff will kill me for calling him beautiful, but it's just the adjective that comes to my heart when I first think of him.)

I give my old-self a little break for being so egocentric, I really wasn't exposed to many races or cultures while living in Michigan (I only recognized black and white as races.) As the Lord has provided me with some beautiful friends (inside and out), I have really started to love, and appreciate, the beauty of race and culture that the Lord has created amongst human beings. I feel blessed that the Lord gave me something other than a white man to marry (no offense to my white sisters who are married/dating white men - God has good plans for everyone.) I get to taste a part of His kingdom by having intimate relationships with folk that are different than me.

Missed my home and family on Thanksgiving, but am equally grateful for my Chinese family.

Today I rejoice in my Chinese Family (and the salon in Queens) :)

Much Love.

1 comment:

  1. I loved this post Laura, I love hearing about what's going on w/ you guys out in NY, I can't wait for you and Jeff to have adorable children :)