girls, girls, girls

Yesterday while the sun was shining brightly in NY; we stayed in like cloistered nuns. It was a hair and nail day. So I’m sporting a shining head of two-inch shorter hair, buffed fingernails enough to make you put sunglasses on, and deep red toe nails to complement the henna the girls put on. No the picture posted is not my foot, but the design they replicated. Its a treat for my husband, like all Yemeni men, who loves to see his wife with lots of henna. I don’t do my hands and arms unless I am going to a wedding, its too distracting for people when I’m working. But the feet are another story.

We downloaded music to our iPods and iTouch, cooked some good old fashion ‘Con-Gri’ – Cuban styled white rice mixed with black bean with juicy T-bone steaks, tons of salad, and the ever present fried yellow plantains of the Caribbean. Yummy! We laughed, joking about things best not repeated in the general population, some serious ‘Dear Abby’ moments, and pampered ourselves as only women can. The day’s intention- a girls day in.

Caesar and hubby were banished from the house. Caesar actually got treated to a day out in the woods along with a few other dogs, whose male owners had also been banished, or temporarily abandoned for the charms and skills of hair stylists and nail gurus. All the guys congregated at the home of one colleague, no longer doctors of the day- but solo males in need of some validation bonding.

My boss would also find himself at his son’s mercy as his wife headed for her quarterly ritual; hair cut at the home of her only stylist for the past 20 years. Her stylist has worked from home for years, preferring to spend extra time doing a fabulous job while talking to the men and women sitting around the living/work area. The gathering is a lot like the ‘salon’ parties of the 19th century, where discussion went from a to z encyclopedic in volume. I have participated a few times, always arriving with Diana early to get my hair done first before the other male clients arrive. Then I can sit and enjoy the conversation over tea or coffee.

Our conversations back home were no less interesting. Its our bonding moment as women, friends, and caretakers. We’ll talk of the latest fashions, of the latest school or work politics, of the latest films and documentary, or of things that happened long ago. Oral tradition is important, yet we take so much of it for granted with our electronic devices. Days like these give us the opportunity. When friends come over for the day there are more funny, goofy moments where laughter out does serious talk. Today, the addition of my eldest daughter’s friend Nadia brought more melody. Together they treated me to both English and Arabic songs. Nadia, born and raised until she was ten in Saudi Arabia while her Filipino mom and Kenyan dad worked as nurses, has kept her Arabic in part to her life-long friendship with my daughter. My husband always chuckles when he hears Nadia and his daughter sing, saying ‘they were first on line when the voices were handed out’. He’s a pretty talented singer, not far behind on the line. My son on the other hand never got directions to the line, he’s so tone deaf even the shower can’t help…

Our world for the moment was within those walls of our apartment, feeling better every time we get a chance to do this. I guess I like those isolated moments because I can step outside any time I please. I know of many women who can’t – here and abroad. Back home in Yemen, we had many of these days, especially when the men would leave for the diwan in the afternoon. But its not quite the same even when our home affords us space and freedom of movement others below our property don’t have. The men leave but they are calling to find out what’s happening at home. I have one brother-in-law who is notorious for constantly calling – more to hear his wife’s lovely voice. Another one because he likes things so mapped out he can’t stand anything off schedule, hence the calling! My father-in-law who never goes, says that’s why he would rather stay even when he’s the one relegated to the far corners of the compound during the girlie moments. He doesn’t have to call . He knows what we are up to. My husband, when he goes to the diwans, never calls. Why should he, he once answered to the question. The women of his house have lives of their own, he doesn’t have to micro-manage.

Indeed, we “girlies” can take care of ourselves, thank you very much!


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