Monday, February 2, 2009

The breakup

Some who read my blog may think that I am obsessed with my appearance. Taking pride in the way I present myself to the world should not be misconstrued with obsession. I am no oil painting and achieving a presentable appearance is not an easy feat; this is achieved by having a good hair stylist, cosmetologist and my husband’s fashion advice. Not being a morning person, small children and some domesticated animals may take fright if they are misfortunate enough to have a glimpse of me at sunrise.

Recently, my hairstylist of 5 years told me she was moving to London. The news shocked me. I was among many of her loyal clients who had an adverse reaction to this unwelcome news. It felt like I was being broken up with, my stomach turned and I was flustered having to face an uncertain future regarding my hair. I knew my stylist since she was an appetence at the salon (I have been a loyal customer there for the past 8 years). I saw her develop into an exceptional hairstylist who also has been rewarded accolades for her talent and devotion to her craft. The prospect of losing her and not being able to find someone that could live up to her standard was disheartening. Furthermore, I was faced with the difficult decision whether I would stay at the salon or leave. Leaving would be like cheating, eventually culminating in a divorce of sorts from a group of people who became like family to me from the shampoo girls, the stylists to the owner.

Not dealing well with breakups, I shaved my hair. Work was part of the reason why the hair had to go, but the secondary motivation was to buy time before I had to make my decision. I do not look good as a skin head, the word “convict” comes to mind. My hair could not grow back quick enough. The touch-ups I needed during the initial re-growth and the ghastliness of the barber shop was too much for me to endure: the barber’s skill is limited to one hair style; they do not brush away the previous client’s hair; and I feared getting dandruff or some hair and/or sculpt disease. I was starting to pine for the comforts of a salon, intelligent conversation, juicy gossip and a professional hair cut.

As luck would have it my husband befriended a husband and wife team of stylist, he met through work. We had dinner with them one evening at which point I decided to take the plunge and entrust my hair to them. A week later I made my first appointment. An hour before I was to arrive, feeling nervous and stressed, I almost cancelled twice. I do not like change! Anyone who cares about their hair would know going to a new stylist is as frightening as discovering your breaks have failed while driving fast down a small stretch of road heading for a sharp turn.

Walking into the salon my nerves were shot. The staff did their best to make me feel at home. The atmosphere was informal, light hearted and I was made to feel like a friend being introduced to a new social network - there were even some eye candy to gawk at. My stylist’s wife also popped by to ask whether I was nervous. My nerves soon settled after discussing with my new stylist what I wanted and he explained to me realistically what we can achieve. Diplomacy is a key skill in hairdressing.

I spent a couple of hours at the salon, having my hair coloured and cut. For the first time in 8 years I was allowed smoke breaks during treatments - a big plus! The staff appeared to enjoy their work, had a passion for what they do and the skill to match. I left the salon looking great. Finally I was blond again and have something that resembled a hairstyle. I found a new family who can look after my hair, people whose expertise I can trust and want to build a relationship with.

Driving home, I still had a sense of guilt for divorcing my salon of 8 years. I will miss the times I spent there and the people I came to know. My stylist decision to move to London to broaden her horizons and breathe new life into her career also forced and encouraged me to make some changes in my life. In life there are no certainties. We all change and sometimes the decisions of others instigate change in us. It’s not always pleasant, but without this, life would be far less interesting. I wish my stylist the best of luck with her future and career. Those who she leaves behind will miss her, but those fortunate to cross her path can look forward to a compassionate ear that will listen, a good friend that will tell you the truth and of course GREAT HAIR!

Till next time.

I AM WHAT I AM live performance by Shirley Bassey


Frank J said...

Hehe - I can appreciate the anxiety of dealing with hair, although my hair, like acne is a distant memory.

I remember (and relate) to the trauma of changing. Loosing my hair and taking the plunge to go eventually accept that when you can see through your hirstyle you shouldn't have one was quite a thing. On the upside though - now I can be a salon prostitute and go wherever I want!

Nice post - keep 'em coming, I'm finding it fascinating. ;0)

Rambler said...

Hehe.. I was totally distraught when I moved to Joburg from Cape Town, all because I was losing my hairdresser. Eventually tracked down my Joburg hairdresser from 10 years ago to see if she could still cut my hair. Thank goodness she's still here...

Pierre said...

Isn't it strange how some people get so attached to their hairdressers and other people don't. Maybe it's due to the type of relationship you develop with the person. I was asked by someone in the hair industry whether I think people stay loyal to the salon that cut their hair, or to the stylist. I think eventually your loyalty switch to the stylist.

Frank J, I can just imagine the horror of going bold, but I must say some guys look hot with shaved hair.

Mr. Know-It-All said...

It took me... I think three months to man up to going to another stylist during my first year of college. I used to try to stretch it out in between breaks so that I could go back to the same woman I had for over eight years.

I hate going to a salon and having to explain to new people what I want. I'd much rather just sit there and let them do their thing for a while, which with new people is a very poor life choice.

It's good to hear the shaved head thing didn't last. Cheers on getting hair back... and then styling it.

Pierre said...

After I was done with what I had to do for work (which lasted a month), the shaved head was history. The only upside to shaving my head was that preparing for the day was so much easier - didn't have to wash or style it. Get up and go.

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