My lifelong need, OK, make that an obsession, to always learn new things kicked into gear when I discovered I could go to braiding school. I have always loved braids from the time I was a little girl. Of course having long hair means that braids are always a popular styling option. The idea that I could learn to braid at a beauty college was a major bonus.
After deciding I definitely wanted to take on the challenge I convinced my friend Lance to go with me. Not only did he have a cosmetology school background, he actually grew up in that general neighborhood and knew his way around. I made a deal with him where he would drive every day to class and in exchange I would pay for his class.
The school that taught the braiding classes was located in Oak Cliff which is in South Dallas not too far from the Dallas Zoo. Lance called to get all the details and it was decided we would would bite the bullet and commit to going. The first task was to go to the school for an interview. It was scheduled for a Friday morning.
Lance and I arrived early and I was a little nervous. When Lance, who is very tall, slender (and a blue eyed blonde like me) walked into the building, all of the people in the waiting room and in the front of the school stopped and stared at us. The receptionist at the front desk was very pleasant but eyed us suspiciously.
The head of school admissions greeted us and directed us to a back office where we were interviewed by the school’s director about why we wanted to go to braiding school. He checked both of our cosmetology hours and then handed us a bunch of forms to fill out.
Lance and I went into the student break room and sat at a long table where we filled out more mounds of paper. We also had to fill out why we wanted to learn braiding. I wrote that it was a beautiful hair tradition and art form and wanted to learn to create stunning braids.
We also had to present copies of our driver’s license, birth certificates, Social Security Number and high school diploma. Those are all State of Texas requirements.
While Lance and I were waiting for the next steps, we walked around the student lunch room and looked at all the previous graduating classes. At that point we realized why everyone seemed to be giving us odd looks. The reality was that at this school for many years, there was not a single European or Caucasian student in any of the class photos. When we realized that we were an unusual pair, we both laughed and enjoyed the opportunity to experience a brand new culture.
Lance wondered aloud if we would be invited to be in future class photos (we were after we graduated). The lunch room was very nice and came equipped with a large refrigerator, microwave and lots of bad-for-you-carbs in the vending machine.
Once the paperwork was completed we were ushered into the classroom with one other prospective braiding student. She was starting classes on Saturday, the next day, but Lance and I were starting tenatively on Monday. We were then guided through orientation. We were told we had to wear white shirts, black pants, black closed shoes and we could buy smocks to wear over our shirts with the school’s logo. We bought acquired our smocks with the logo and promised to wear the rest of the uniform.
We also were told what time we had to clock in and out, shown the time clock and told the rules about no cell phones and assigned a locker.
The entire process of applying and going through orientation took approximately three hours.
We left the school feeling a little giddy and after some discussion decided to wait a few weeks to actually start classes. Lance called the school’s owner and told him that we would still be coming but not for a few weeks due to other scheduling conflicts.
In the meantime I spent the next few days searching for every braid book I owned. I decided when we did start classes I wanted to be ready with several braid patterns I could learn and practice.