Today I went out walking around not knowing what I was doing. But I knew. I was looking for a salon. It was time. It had to be done.
I noted several salons as I walked around the immediate neighborhood. I eyed each of them critically, and took note of what they were called. Cliches. No. Beauty School Drop Outs. No. I finally wandered into one of them. And I looked like I was wandering, too. I could tell that they knew right off the bat that I was a wanderer, which is altogether different than a walk-in. I know. I remember. I used to work in a salon. So, whatever this place was, it was ok. Ok, but nothing remotely like the place that I normally go to to have my hair cut.
Why did I do this? Why did I betray my normal stylist? The stylist that I have been going to (at minimum) twice a year, for eleven years? Where, in the end, my hair was so long, that I didn't go in for cuts as often as my stylist would have liked? Yet, he made time to (accept my money) cut my hair, anyway? Just not as often or as extremely as he would have liked (to accept my money) cut my hair?
First of all, I should say that he (I'll call him Seth) is a great cutter of hair. I liked his hair cuts. And I liked the salon. I especially (as it got to be five, six, seven years) liked the way it (which is very nice salon, nicer than most things I do for myself, if not more expensive) always smelled the same. Kind of the way that Thanksgiving dinner always smells the same. I knew where I was when I walked into that salon. And it was good, believe me it was good. Very, very good smelling. That salon. And the interior was nice. I liked how they had this super calm-to-the-senses, nearly Buddhist aesthetic mixed with raw industrial elements. There was something for everyone in that design. But no. Not this time. And I didn't want to wait a million years for an appointment. And, I hate to say it , but I think I've grown weary of Seth. No fault of his own, but he just knows too much. Even though I barely talk to him. Eleven years will lead to that. This sense of he's practically family (and he has indeed cut the hair of nearly every person in my family, which only adds to my distress).
I just wanted an escape. From my hair. And from Seth.
Because I wanted to cut my hair to shoulder length. With a lot of layers. I wanted something more Do Re Mi. Something more something-or-other. Something less of me (the current me), and more of that someone else that I've been at times. I wanted not be this, but, instead, that. I wanted to go to France. Via my hair. Understand, I'm not impulsive. This has been boiling up in me for some time. Just that certain things happen in life, and suddenly I need to be smarter. To have my shit together. Today. Quickly. Because that woman, the one that has the shorter hair with all of the layers, has her shit together. I remember her that way (it has been a long time, but I'm pretty sure about this). She eats right. She doesn't make a fool of herself. She's a bit quieter, but still present. She mostly laughs at the jokes, instead of making them. But that's ok. She doesn't worry. She likes life. Herself. She is a lady. She walks down the street in the rain with her umbrella. Wearing a little black A-line dress. Carrying her bag of oranges from the street vendor. Singing her quiet, lilting, somewhat heartbreaking ballad about the irony of life and love (in a musical set in a small, vaguely European seaside town, that is about the irony of life and love). That girl. I know her. She's ok.
I wanted that.
Just not with Seth. Which was unfair of me. This would have made his day. Seth has been waiting for this. He really likes cutting off all of my hair. Transforming me into someone else. Playing the part of some kind of magician or, in his mind, Prometheus. And, as he has only had this experience with me once in this life time (way back in the very beginning) he has waited a very long time for this event. And don't get me wrong. I'm merely quoting him. He calls it an event. He has asked about it many times. When the big event will be. And he doesn't mean my wedding day. He means my hair. He's mad like that.
So I wanted to avoid Seth's complete hoopla that I would have been confronted with if I had gone in to see him. As well as his questions. His thousands of questions. Because Seth knows the whole psychological history of my hair, as well as keeps a record of it. A printout that he refers to whenever I come in. I assumed that it has notes in it so that he would remember me, my job, what to chit-chat about, but he finally showed me the stuff that's in my file. For instance, to my horror, in 1996 I came in for a drastic cut. I was going through something. It was a hair emergency. And In 1999 (his least favorite of the years, indicated by the big frowny face he'd drawn in a red Sharpie over the typed data: a lengthy, unforgiving diatribe) I had grown it out long. Very long. Where it has remained ever since. And he totally disapproved. Which he has told me outright. Many times. And he hated that I never had any damage or real need for him to hack off my hair. He had to do the tiny trim that I asked for. In his notes I saw that he originally attested my long hair to the fact that I had gone back to school. He thought I was regressing. Which was true. But then, all of the information that Seth had on me (in his permanent file on my hair) was true.
Every single word.
So I went into Salon Blue. Blue not being my favorite color (except the shade of blue of that one couch that I really wanted, which was perfect). But I liked their location. It was a vibe. I just went in. Without any preparation. No phone call. Nothing. It was equally bold as it was weak. I never do such things. And as I mentioned earlier, they knew right away. That I was a wanderer. They said,
Are you ok? Do you want some water while you wait? An aspirin? A hit off of Kristi's joint?
Don't worry. It's cool. We've all been there..
And all I had done was enter the building. I never said a word. And I quickly realized that I didn't have to. It was like being brought into the emergency room. They know it's bad. Don't try to speak. It's ok. You're alright now. Just let us take care of you.
I said, ok.
I never so much as told Kristi what I wanted. I just pointed to a tear sheet that was taped up on a wall. I said, Her. It was a photograph of a woman with great shoulder length hair, who looked dead serious yet calm. And a little like me. Who was clearly in a post orgasmic state. Who's hair was piece-y, like it was already a little bit dirty. And Kristi got it. Me. My hair. My problems. She just took out the biggest pair of scissors I've ever seen in my life and cut off a lengthy portion of my hair. Then she showed it to me. For shock value. Like, Look what we've done. There's no going back now. Then she asked if I'd like it in a box. I said no, but I'll admit it. I did. I did want my hair in a box. To have my hair in a box. I just didn't know that this was done. And the box (I later found out) was coffin shaped. I really could have kicked myself. But, I got past it. And then, after my hair was washed, Kristi proceeded to cut my hair.
Later, when I woke up, Kristi handed me a mirror. She said, Look at the back. I invented that. And the back was good. She flipped it up a little with her fingers. She explained how she was always inventing things for her clients. I thought of how this "inventing things" would have caused Seth to run screaming directly to the Beauty Police to have Kristi placed under arrest. But I was in a different country now. And the back was good. I dare say better than ever. She then said in a half whisper, I bet you hate your hair the first day you wash it (she was right, I really do). She said, ..this makes it dirty again. I said, Oh, I've heard about this. The "dirty little secret". Yeah. So she put some onto my hair. And instantly it looked second-day. And so I got up and started towards the front. But then I stopped and turned around. Kristi, I asked, how often to I need to come in to maintain this? And she said, When you start feeling like you hate life.. come in. Not a minute sooner..
Good answer. It might be years.