This week I got my hair cut. No big deal, you may think, but then you’d be on drugs because YES, IT IS! When I lived in St. Louis, I went to the same stylist for several years: Ikbal. She was my Israeli mother. I followed her around to every different salon she went to even when it involved super sleuth skills at one point. She saw me through grad school, my first job, a bad break up (after which she appropriately got me to color my hair for the first time), and it was only fitting that she be the one to do my do for the biggest day of my life, my wedding. I celebrated her kids’ weddings and gushed over her darling grandbabies. When we first moved to Chicago, I still went to her when we visited the Lou. Alas, that relationship had to end. Lucky me, I found a salon across the street from our condo downtown. Even luckier for me, I found Maria. She not only could cut my hair, but she was just as sweet and personable as Ikbal.
Then we moved to west Lincoln Park. Being lazy and cheap, I tried to find another stylist. I tried places within walking distance to our townhome. I tried places via Groupon. I tried Wicker Park, Lincoln Park, and Lakeview. I tried men, women, young, trendy, edgy, etc. A couple times I did repeat stylists, but I was still like a lost puppy roaming the hair salon world for years. Finally, one day I was looking at an old picture and realized I liked my hair best when sweet Maria did it. Since Mike was getting yet another MRI downtown, I took the opportunity to find out that she was still there after over 4 years since my last cut with her.
Reunited and it feels so good. It was like coming home. Josephine was still there to shampoo my hair and throw in her loving smile and soothing head massage. She should be in my will. When your definition of “spa” is taking an extra 2 minutes in the shower and indulging in letting the water get hot enough to steam, then Josephine is like a full day spa package. Maria skillfully cut my hair the way I liked it. She knows where to part it and how to make it less heavy. We caught each other up on our additional 3 children between us. She sympathized with Mike’s situation as I normalized her son’s speech delays. I told her it was like the Xfinity commercial and I should have never left her. I told my mom it was like going to therapy, so though she ain’t cheap and requires a drive downtown, I’m a runaway who is back home to stay.
Sure, it’s just hair. Sure, it’s vanity. Sure, it grows back. But don’t mess with it. I can totally relate when a friend’s hair gets awfully butchered. Yes, there are more tragic things in life, but let’s be real. We love our locks. Yes, survival is more important than beauty so baldness is better than cancer. But we can still mourn and appreciate how big of a change that is when it happens and has to stay for months of treatment. But it’s also deeper than the roots we dye. It’s why movies can be made around barbershops and beauty salons. Maria isn’t just my stylist and Parto Naderi isn’t just my salon. It’s community. It’s relationships. It’s the little things that make life enjoyable. When life is harder than usual, these little things can be our greatest joys. A dear friend that I was able to spend some time with last week reminded me of that truth in the midst of chemo and hospitals. And since then, I’ve been trying to savor the little things that when put all together make really big, ginormous things, the things we turn to for comfort and glimpses of grace as they all point to the Giver of enduring joy.