My mother's hands have always meant the world to me.
There are some aspects of this environment that make me feel particularly infantile -- those urges to curl up in some fetal ball of homesickness when my body hurts or when it seems there isn't anyone in whom I can "appropriately" confide about challenges and gripes. I seldom or never notice the ache of something missing until circumstances make me feel that way.
I went to get my hair cut yesterday.
When I was very young, Mom used to wash my hair in the kitchen sink. I loved the feeling because she got the water nozzle right up close to my forehead but used her extra hand to protect my eyes from the spray. She cared for my hair long before I knew how to do it, and the experience set a standard in my mind that I would strive to meet for the rest of my life.
Later Mom also cut my hair on occasion during my high school years. I loved just being close to her, hands shaping the look of my hair, working magic with the scissors for an hour or so... There is something about that kind of touch -- pure, firm, comforting, and reassuring.
I never expected homesickness for that specific type of feeling to flood back into my mind, but when I went to the salon yesterday I felt my mother there with me -- through the hands of a beautiful woman named Juanita -- across more than 8,000 miles. Juanita gave me a manicure and cut and styled my hair. She matter-of-factly told me 'it will be okay' when my cuticle was screaming with pain, and she firmly worked magic through my hair with the scissors. Something about her touch was my mother for two hours, and it was good.