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Part of the Journey

I moved from Taiwan to the U.S. in 1970. At the time, I was pregnant with my first child and couldn’t speak English, and my family was extremely poor. Over the years, I have worked my way up to provide for my children, eventually earning enough money for both my son and daughter to go to college. Now, they are both out of the house and I am living in Massachusetts, where I run my own hair salon.

It took a lot for me to reach where I am today. While working multiple jobs to provide for my family, I attended a hairdressing academy for two years. I was hired immediately after I attended the academy and worked at a few different hair salon chains, trying to learn as much as I could. Once I became one of the very best, I got promoted to manager. I then traveled around the U.S. to many different cities, earning money for the chain, but I really just wanted to learn about all of the designs and how to create them myself. Finally, I told myself, “I have to open my own shop,” — and that’s how it all started.

I have had my own hair salon for 35 years now, and I am very grateful. Right now, not many people come in. I had to close for a couple months when the government shut down all non-essential businesses, but I was finally able to reopen this week. I had five customers today. It’s tough because I’m a small business, and money doesn’t just come out of nowhere. But I’m not worried.

Right now people are nervous. Anyone that comes in usually has a mask on, and some wear gloves too. I always cover up completely. But the people that came in today didn’t do it. They said, “We don’t need to, we’re not sick.” Every time someone leaves, I resanitize everything.

I think that everyone is doing what they can right now, and so many people want to help. I am thankful for my home, being able to provide for my family, and for all of my good friends. One of them sent me a care package with some food, and an old friend’s daughter also comes by to help me out from time to time. She stressed to me that “You cannot go shopping,” so I don’t go out to the store anymore. I don’t go out at all.

A little before this all started, my best friend who lived in a duplex with me passed away. He was there for me in all the ways that my family was not, and so losing him left me feeling like a shell of my previous self for about five months. More recently, I have started to take care of the things that he normally would have and have begun hiring people to take care of the jobs around the house that I am unable to perform.

I think I’ve been pretty successful with my life. I worked incredibly hard, and now I have many people who love me, and I’m able to provide for myself and my family. Although it’s been a long journey filled with loss and conflict, I’m happy with where I am right now. Especially in times like these, it’s most important to have faith and to know that everything is going to be okay.


Written by: Annalisa Fang

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