In preparation for my trip to Madrid, I went to the African World of Braids in the neighboring city of Durham to get my hair braided. Say what you’d like about Durham, but it is undeniably more urban than Chapel Hill – take that as you will. The shopping center that contained the African World of Braids wasn’t even pretending that it wasn’t in the hood, which I suppose is a good thing (maybe?).
Braiding individual, or “box” braids takes around four hours to complete. I brought a book with me to the salon, assuming that I would have no problem sitting through the long process – after all, I’d sat through bio lecture this entire year and only checked my email every five minutes on average. Even so, I found myself staring out of the huge windows of the shop at the desolate Durham landscape. The sky was painfully blue and the scene seemed unchanging and airless. It was mesmerizing.
One man paced up and down in front of the shop windows, carrying on a loud and aggressive phone conversation with one of his friends. “They mad – they mad because I cheated on the white girl with another white girl,” he spat into the phone. What? Excuse me? Why would anyone be upset about that? “You tell ‘em – if anything happens to me, if I get locked up again, it’s that girl Brenda’s fault” (Names have been changed for obvious reasons). I looked around at everyone else in the shop; the women were obviously listening, but betrayed no indication that what was happening was abnormal. “Yeah, Brenda. The one who live over by Durham Regional Hospital. …Yeah, she snitched on me. You know if I go back – “ This is a terrifying conversation, I thought, and I would very much like to leave, except I am tethered by the hairs on my head to two different people.
I began to feel claustrophobic. The ex-convict outside continued his tirade. One of the braiders, a thin woman with a pink cap on, spoke not a word of English but seemed to understand the meaning behind the man’s inflection. She snorted to herself softly and said in a delicate French accent, “America.”
Yes, I thought to myself. America. But it is not bizarre happenings such as that one that make me want to leave the country. I do not have anything eloquent to say about going to Spain. People will ask you so many questions about what you’re doing – since when is “Because I felt like it” not an acceptable response? When I got into Yale, my physics teacher asked me why I wanted to go there. I was confused as to why I had to explain why I wanted to pursue the best thing that ever happened to me. Sometimes you don’t have to explain why things are good – they just are.
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<p><span style="color: rgb(29, 29, 29); font-family: Arial, Verdana, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: normal; background-color: rgb(237, 237, 237);">Bria Godley is a psychology major at Yale University from Chapel Hill, North Carolina. She gained her passion for travel as a child when she traveled to Europe, Asia, Australia and South America with her family and hopes to continue to travel throughout the rest of her life. Academically, Bria is interested in neuroscience, philosophy, and literature. Bria’s extracurricular interests include singing, writing, and taking multiple naps per day. She looks forward to chronicling her time in Madrid.</span></p>