Hair inspection at Chang Bai Shan
One of the most common occurrences since I've been living in China is people complementing and then reaching to touch my hair. Most times I oblige because they always start by saying piaoliang (beautiful). I think they say it to soften me a bit. This happens with complete strangers from time to time, but it most often happens with those who are relatively familiar with me. The people I have had a couple conversations with seem to get excited when I tell them it's alright to touch my hair. They usually respond with excitement, sounding much like the little girl from the latest Karate Kid movie: "Can I touch your hair?" So when someone asked a that same question today I was not completely surprised. 

As I was leaving my third class of the day, I ran into a student that I'd met last week around the same time. She introduced herself once more. 
"Hi, I am Leaven," she began. "Do you remember me?"
"Oh, yeah." I said with excitement. "Of course I remember you, Leaven. You're coming from English corner, right? How was it today?"
"Oh, wow!!" She almost shouted. "You are so cleaver and have such good remembering. It was good."
"I'm glad. Were you able to talk with the teacher about universities in Canada?"
"Oh no, maybe I am very busy in recent days." She said looking a little dismayed.
"Yeah, I understand." I began attempting to cheer her up. "It's that time of year when work is piling up."
She looked confused.
"There is so much work." I clarified, not realizing that she wasn't familiar with my earlier phrase.
"Oh. Yes, I have so much work."
"Me too. I have a LOT of papers left to grade from the midterm examinations."
"Being a teacher is hard," she said sincerely.
"It's ok. Being a student is hard, too." I said with an encouraging smile. "I'm sure you will be fine, though."
I was consciously speaking more slowly.
"Well," I began, attempting to part ways, "I have to go get something from my office, so I will see you later."
"Ok, can I have your number?" She asked with diminished excitement in her voice.
"Here you go," I said showing her my number in my phone (those extra digits are so hard to remember sometimes).
"Ok, I'll see ya later." I said noticing that she wasn't budging. "You could walk with me if you like."
"Yes, I really want to talk with you." She said almost sprinting to catch up with me. 
We walked to my office, grabbed my shoes that I'd gone to get out of my desk and walked and talked with Leaven a bit more. We bonded over the fact that we are both from the South of our countries and fear the Changchun winter. She walked me all the way to my apartment before asking the inevitable question:
"Can I touch your hair?"
"Yeah. . . Sure." I stammered an answer out, surprised that she'd asked so abruptly.
"Oh, wow! It's so cool." She said with pure delight. "Is it nature?"
"Yes, it's natural." I responded, purposely overemphasizing natural and heard her repeat the word softly to herself. "My hair is curly."
"I think it is very good." She said with an assuring smile.

As we parted ways, at my apartment door, I could only think of how many times I've had that conversation (both in my broken Chinese and another's broken English). I don't think I will ever tire of the compliments so many women (and rarely men) give me concerning my hair, but I know I will tire of the hair touching, especially from strangers. Most people don't reach to touch my hair, so I'm not in grave danger. It's laughable and exciting in those rare cases when a stranger (usually an older person) walks up to examine my hair. It's pretty cool to feel like a celebrity where ever I go. . . courtesy of my hair. 
aunt neicy
11/21/2012 11:35:49 pm

if only they could have seen your hair before I made it what it is today. SCAAAAARRRRYYYYY!!!

Aunt Sam
11/22/2012 03:24:14 pm

you be careful there and keep writing this was a good read for me and I like how the people there are admiring you and your hair.

Damiano Gavins
11/24/2012 06:44:02 am

I know it feels good to be a celebrity. I just hope that you are having the time of your life. Natural is what's up! I wish all women would enjoy the natural hair color and texture. It was given from God. So why would anyone try to change what he has given to them?

Sharon Cummings
11/25/2012 04:19:36 am

Our very own Angela Davis...:)

Mommy (Susan)
11/25/2012 11:45:43 am

Wow! Baby this is really an well put together blog. It is nice that people enjoy your hair as well as you being black. After reading your blog I was really excited about reading more. I can't wait to see more pictures...I love baby girl.

Christine Hait
11/28/2012 11:48:45 am

Tempestt, Americans could not have a better cultural ambassador in China than you! I think you need to change your hairstyle frequently in order to keep the interest up.

Tempestt Gavins
11/28/2012 07:31:32 pm

I do that now. They get so confused by my new "hair cuts" lol

Tempestt Gavins
11/28/2012 07:35:53 pm

Thanks, Ma! Love you too!

Tempestt Gavins
11/28/2012 07:37:47 pm

Dom, it's the pressure to conform I guess. Or maybe it's, ironically enough, the "natural" thing to do lol. It is pretty cool being a celebrity, though.

Tempestt Gavins
11/28/2012 07:38:42 pm

Aunt Neicy, why you gotta put all my business out like that?! Lol

Tempestt Gavins
11/28/2012 07:39:40 pm

Thanks, Aunt Sam. I'll keep writing. Keep reading and encourage friends to do the same :)

Tempestt Gavins
11/28/2012 07:40:49 pm

Sharon, that's so funny because that's who I was for Halloween this year. You should've seen me explaining my "costume" to my students lol.

Elnita Williams
3/9/2013 05:30:30 am

Loving it!!!! EW


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    Tempestt Gavins

    This is my fourth time to visit but my first year living in China.  It has been an amazing experience so far, especially with being one of the few black girls among many Chinese people.  Follow me as I experience China.

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