Goodbyes and Indonesian Cream Baths

Hair Salon in Indonesia I tilt my head back in the salon chair and wait for the cold water to hit my head. And all these memories wash over me.

Please excuse my very corny, clichéd analogy—I get this way whenever I move. There’s something comforting about cheesy “Friends are friends forever”-type songs and heart-felt cards written by hand and plans with friends to do something “one last time.”

I’m moving in a few weeks from my home of nine years to another part of Borneo. And this trip to the quaint salon was one of those “last times” with a dear friend.

MAF missionary Rebecca HopkinsMaybe if you live back in America, you’d meet your friend for one last coffee at a Starbucks. Our small island doesn’t have one of those. So, we sometimes meet at salons where pampering is cheap and the cold water actually feels good on a hot day. You just have to trust me on this, but there’s something about a “cream bath”* that lends itself to bonding in the most special and appropriately cheesy way.

I’ve met with both MAF and Indonesian friends in salons for various occasions over the years. We’ve celebrated both birthdays and “bad days”—you know the type of day that you just need a break from the cultural stress or the kid stress and the why-do-bad-things-happen stress.

I never really went to salons before coming to Indonesia. And I never ever thought my roughin’-it Indonesia experience would include them. I mostly expected things like snakes, tropical diseases, culture shock, homesickness. And believe me, I’ve had my share of the hard things.

But today, this chat about heart-stuff with her, and this sweet-smelling conditioner in my hair while my shoulders get a massage are good reminders. The life here that can be hard can also be really good.

And both kinds of days are best spent in my neighborhood Indonesian salon with a friend.

*Indonesian Cream Bath: A hair washing/shoulder-rub combo with scented oils and conditioners, all for about $5.

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