Before I go, I have something to say

Do You Believe in Magic

You know how it goes. At first, everything is wonderful and right, and after being together, you always feel like your best self, certain you must be glowing. This person you’ve found brings out the best in you, and you never want to let him go. Or her – it could be a her. It often is.

It can go on like this for years. You get to know each other so well, words are hardly necessary. But then it slowly dawns on you. Things are not so great. You are either in a rut, and you want things to change, and he doesn’t, or you want everything to remain the same
forever, and she’s set on changing, over and over. It occurs to you that it might be time to leave, to change partners, but the very thought of it makes your stomach turn over with dread.

Sometimes the end is quick and hard; sometimes it takes years. But there comes a time in every woman’s life when it’s time. Time to get a new hairdresser. I even know some men who’ve gone through this.

What did you think I was talking about? Love? Dating? Marriage? Those are nothing compared with the relationship we have with the person who does our hair. I’ve been to book club meetings where we spent two hours talking about how afraid we are to change hairdressers, instead of the plot of the book. If there’s a photo of the author, we might critique her hair, but that’s it.

One of the hardest things about moving to a new town is finding new services – figuring out the best grocery store, dry cleaner, shoe repair shop (if you can even find one), and Quick-Mart for midnight pickups of chocolate bars or one-percent milk. The hardest service to find, by far, is your next hairdresser.

One way to do it is to ask your new coworkers, presuming you moved for work. You can’t just ask anyone, though. While it might earn you brownie points, asking your boss, “Who does your hair?” may not be the best idea, if it looks like a fifties’ beehive and that is not your style. So of course you’ll want to find someone whose hair you admire. That is, if you can find someone whose hair you admire.

One very funny tangent in a memoir I love is about doing just this. The book, “And I Shall Have Some Peace There,” is by Margaret Roach, who used to be Editorial Director for Martha Stewart Omnimedia. On September 11, 2001, she drove north to her country
house, seeking shelter and respite while the world was falling down, literally, around her. Ultimately, she decided to leave her Manhattan
life behind, and to make her life mainly as a gardener, one who earns money writing about her gardening and her life in general. ( is a wonderful blog, by the way, and her books have been equally terrific.)

As she reported, “A friend with a few more rural years than I had said repeatedly to me in advance, ‘You’ll know you’ve really moved to the country when you get your first rural haircut.’ The haircut was not a bad haircut; it just wasn’t my haircut, and you know how women are about their hair and hairdressers. It felt scary, out of control.” She was in shock, afraid to look in the mirror.

Roach had been spoiled by bigcity haircuts, something I have only experienced once. The city wasn’t nearly as fashionable as New York (it was Denver), but the haircutter was. Looking like a close twin of my personal heartthrob Steve Perry, only with a purple wash over his silken dark locks, he cut hair for free one afternoon a week so the newbies at his high-end salon could see how it was done.

Somehow, I got an appointment. I have to tell you, I have never felt so perfectly cared for in my life. It was just my hair, but felt like more than that. Finding a person who can give you a Good Hair Day, you don’t want to let him – or her, it could be a her – go.

But the one I found in Dubuque went, over a year ago. There was no long goodbye, no time for planning or suggestions; a family crisis snatched her away. I didn’t want to go back to her salon, because I know how salons work. Each hairdresser just rents a chair, and
even if one stylist is a master of her craft, that doesn’t mean the one next to her will be.

One other thing. If you find a hairdresser whose style you love? You shouldn’t necessarily go to her. Ask instead who does her hair. Even the best don’t do their own.

I’ve been a wanderer ever since I was involuntarily set free. I tried a salon near my house, thinking how great it would be to swing by on my way home from work. No luck: too expensive, not enough experience. I tried another who seemed promising, but when my hair started to get wavy as she cut off a few heavy inches, she panicked and refused to go further. I had to go elsewhere to get it finished, and boy, was that a disaster. I hardly had a hair left on my head.

So I’m still looking. I stop at a chain (what Roach would call “Kute Kutz”) now and then to keep the bangs out of my eyes, but that’s it.
I’d like to look decent for my son’s June wedding, so I’m still looking. Still seeking that person with the magic scissors who can give me a few more Good Hair Days before I throw in the (shampoo) towel.

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