How many times in our life are we given the opportunity to start over? How many of us would actually take that chance?  Whether we need a monetary, academic, or emotional change, most of us would be too apprehensive for a complete life upheaval. It takes a very special type of person to be able to do this; to be able to move into a country of unknown, to make a new family, to start a business, to learn a new language, and in the midst of all this change able to keep ties transnationally.

What is the special quality that allows some people to make this change? After speaking to several salon owners in East Somerville, that differential value seems to be in their “wanting”. Their language is consistently is laced with words of improvement, change, wanting more, expansion, development, and progress. Never satisfied, there seems to be always the next step in mind – the next employee to hire, the new chair to purchase, the next client to please.

Moving to a new country must have caused a break between the person and the conceptual category that was their previous life. Their previous category, whether it was employee or student or mother or wife or farmer, is split wide open with the change. Now category-less, the person becomes a student of English and the new culture, owner and employee of their new salon, as well as keeping their father or mother and husband or wife roles. This exploding of the confines of society categories provides the space to want more. There is space to learn a new culture other than your own, to make more money than before, to try a new business, to meet a new spouse; to start a new life.

There is a definite change in the narrator, during an interview, when I ask about coming to America from their home country.  The moment becomes charged with the most subtle type of excited electricity as their eyes usually warm and forget the apprehension and formalness of the interview process. It is possible to detect a sense of pride, constructed from their disappointments and achievements, in their voice as they speak about when they “came to America”.