Today at the salon, as I waxed my clients eyebrows. At the moment I spread the freshly heated, melted honey wax to the thin, fine blonde hairs that delicately lined the bone of her brow. I knew. Knew that one day we would all be dead. Dead and gone forever. Like the carefully chosen, artfully discarded, delicately fine hairs, the ones that only moments ago were a part of my clients body. The hairs that now lay on the bottom of the the salon trash can. Forever attached to the cotton strip that served as the vehicle of their demise.
This”knowing” happens to me from time to time . At the most trivial of hours. A knowing that is real and unobjectionable. Like a quick glimpse behind the veil of illusion. The illusion of a permeant existence. As we hypnotically tend to the minutia that comprises our daily lives. The quick trip to Target to return the “just not right” color swimsuit. The specialist Dr.’s visits we wait months for, even after the symptom is long gone. The once a year trip to the ocean and the ten thousand other things we do on a minute to minute, hour by hour, day by day and year by year basis. Distracting ourselves from the stone cold, unbelievably fucking scary fact, that one day we too will be as discarded as my 4:00’s hairy eyebrows.the ones that now lay at the bottom of the trash can on an overcast and oppressively humid late Aug Wed afternoon in the salon.
She talked to me about her aging. About her wrinkles and age spots. About style. She spoke about comfortable shoes, how she liked mine and about her OCD. She liked to make lists. Things she needed to do. To buy. To remember. The lists made her feel better.
I listened as she talked. I carefully positioned the tiny round wooden wax laden stick on her brow bone. I knew the angle of her face and the shape I wanted to achieve. I had done this 100 times before. Every 5 weeks to be exact.
She had not been diagnosed with OCD but she knew she had it.
She had returned from a trip to an acquaintances home the day before. Knowing. The acquaintance had had some surgery and was laid up for a while so my client brought her dinner. As my client made her way thru the garage into the home, she noticed how there was not much room to get by. Upon entering the home she noticed how messy and disorganized the house was. This made her “uncomfortable”. She tried to make excuses to herself about why the house was so disheveled. How could this woman clean when she was laid up? The teenagers that were also living in the house were just that, teenagers. They messed things up and never bothered to clean up after themselves and this woman had simply “given up” for the moment. And of course her husband was always at work. It was not a hoarders home she told me, just really very messy.
Upon returning to her own home she saw for the very first time just how neat it was. Just how clean. Just how organized. This too made her “uncomfortable”. She shook it off. I listened as I walked her back to the styling chair, as I draped the black silk cutting cape around her and as I snipped and trimmed her thick wet hair into her usual style. I listened as I felt the ache in my back that sometimes comes from 5 straight days of standing behind the chair. Even with my comfortable shoes on.
I listened even as I thought about how long I had been doing my clients hair. Had it been 8 years? 11 years? Her college aged daughter was in elementary school when she found me through a friends recommendation.
My client talked about her husbands upcoming retirement and I sensed her ambivalence about this. I thought about change. They had been ships passing in the night for years now. She being a morning person and he a night owl. Would they be able to stand being together again after all of these years? Would they finally have the time to do all the things they dreamed of when their daughter was young? Travel, exploring hobbies, and living the good life now that they had the time? Did they even know each other any more? Like each other any more?
My client spoke about finally having the time to organize photo’s in her photo albums, cleaning closets and sorting her shoes. I thought about change. I thought about death and the fact that my family photo’s would forever stay disorganized in the plastic bins and giant popcorn tins which they currently reside if I had my way. I thought about how much longer I would be able to stand behind the chair and do this work. My back was achey and my feet were tired. She told me about a party she would attend at a neighbors this coming weekend and about the strawberry bunt cake she would bring. She looked sad as she described the entire recipe to me cup by cup.
I spun my client around to face the mirror and she smiled a half smile. Thank you you always do such a wonderful job she said. Thanks for listening she said. I bet you get tired of hearing every ones stories “No, of course not!” I said. Only half meaning it.
I brought her to the front desk and rescheduled her thru the next 3 months. “See you in 5 weeks,” she said. “Ok, have a good time this weekend at your party.”
I swept the floor and thought about change. I turned out the salons lights as I closed up shop. I drove the familiar streets home to my son and husband and thought about death. I watched the late Aug leaves letting go of their branches and I breathed a deep breath in. On the out breath I thought about how much I appreciated my “just right” messy, wonderfully achy life.