Is it really possible for a hairstylist’s cape to be a hangman’s halter? A means of unlawful restraint? An instrument of torture and interrogation?
Yes. It is. Especially in the loving hands of Eduardo, my decade+ hairdresser and friend.
Now, let me back up a bit and explain how I ended up in his “executioner’s chair” for three hours of captivity. Several years earlier, I’d suffered through an unforeseen and agonizing divorce that was finalized within five weeks and left me alone, jobless, homeless, and reeling from trauma. To heal my heartbreak, I’d moved to a tiny village about 65 miles south of Santa Fe – the city I’d called home and muse for seventeen years.
This tiny-tot-of-a-town was isolated in the midst of the high plains. And seriously lost in a time warp. It was so similar, in fact, to the spirit of my 1950’s childhood neighborhood, that I immediately felt familiar and embraced.
The town’s name translates from Spanish into, “The Resting Place.” Perfect, I thought. I can hide out, lick my wounds, and remodel an old house as I rebuild my soul. It was lonely enough that I was sure I’d never be at risk to fall in love again. It would just be me and my little house on the edge of miles and miles of prairie.
After three years of a love affair with solitude – of staring at air, of journaling daily with spontaneous abandon, of dating myself – I was feeling pleased that as a woman in her mid-fifties, I could create my own fulfillment and live a peaceful life.
One day, in 2009, it occurred to me that I needed to have my hair cut and colored. A minor outer transformation that reflected my inner shifts. So, I made an appointment with my big-city stylist.
When I arrived at the salon, he ordered me into a smock and then into a chair and then wrapped me snugly with a cape – tightening the Velcro fasteners around my neck with such force, I gasped for what I feared would be my final full breath of air.
Before I could focus, Eduardo spun the chair around so I was facing the mirror and he was standing behind me – armed with his utility belt full of scissors and razors and other weapons of mass re-construction. It was a sunny winter day. One of New Mexico’s unbelievably crisp, cold days with a crystalline-blue sky that looked like it had been colored with a Crayola crayon clenched in the fist of an over-zealous child. The sunlight poured in like caramel through the side window. There I sat: snapped, clipped, bound and gagged in its spotlight.
“Let’s give you a fresh look. Lots of layers, releasing your natural curl. A shiny platinum color to complement your winter tan.”
“Yes. Perfect,” I muttered, as I closed my eyes and settled in for pampering.
It soon became clear, however, that Eduardo had a secondary agenda. There arose questions about my social life; hints about the limits of solitude; suggestions about a need for intellectual stimulation.
Him: “You know, girl, a few of my clients have met wonderful men. One is even engaged to be married.”
Him: “And they’ve all met these men through one of two online dating sites.”
Me: Silent. Stomach muscles knotting.
Him: “I have one address written down. Let me get it for you.”
He handed me a yellow sticky note with a URL scribbled on it. “Here. Take this home with you and give it a look. It’s free. And, who knows, you may find someone in your same town!”
Me: Silently thinking, “And ruin my perfectly quiet life?? Date – at my age? Awkward. Plus, think of how many creeps are roaming the Internet? No thanks!”
Him: “Seriously, girl. I’ve known you for years and I know you needed time alone to grieve, but, I think you’re losing yourself in loneliness. You’re a dynamic person. You need to return to your true self before it’s too late.”
Me: “Are you kidding me? I love my new life!”
And so, for three hours, I was held hostage in that chair until I promised to search the dating website. I agreed just so I could go home to my uninterrupted peace.
The next day was Saturday. That evening, my DVD had not arrived in the mail, so, my private Saturday-Night-at-the-Movies date was canceled. I wandered over to my computer and saw the yellow sticky note I’d carelessly tossed on the keyboard. It haunted me. Enough that I felt compelled to fulfill my promise. To render myself righteous, so to speak.
I typed in the address, waited for the dial-up service to connect, and then read the instructions for browsing. They required that a personal profile be submitted before granting permission to enter the sacred site. A waste of words, I thought. But, eventually, I pretended that I was facing my journal instead of a computer screen, and let spill a lyrical description of myself and my interests.
I submitted it, without editing, and spent the entire evening perusing the options within a 300-mile radius of my town. It was mesmerizing. The photos. The stories. The desires. The lies. It was romance and intrigue I’d never experienced before.
By midnight, I’d found three possibilities. One wanted a woman one-year younger than I. I wrote a brief message anyway, and sure enough – no response. (Oh, I forgot to mention. Being limited to dial-up, I wasn’t able to upload my photo.) So, I couldn’t really blame anyone for ignoring me!
Another man, who traveled the world for his spiritually-based nonprofit, seemed interesting. So, another brief message that met with no reply. (Of course, he’s probably in Tibet with no access to WiFi!)
Yet another man lived in the town where I attended church. His pictures expressed a cowboy persona, but, his writing style was very witty and professional. To him, I sent a flirtatious “wink.”
The next morning, I found a message from him. Lengthy, detailed, and highly complimentary of my poetic profile. With one more trial day remaining, I was able to write back.
We exchanged many messages that weekend and discovered many common interests. When the free trial period ended, I asked if he’d like to continue a correspondence. His response was immediate and positive. I promised to mail photos of myself, so we wouldn’t be unbalanced. But it almost didn’t matter because we’d fallen in love with each other’s words!
After a week, we met and lunched at a café. Turns out that two passionate wordsmiths can be ambidextrous: both agile on screen and nimble of voice.
We dated for nearly a year, surprisingly minus any awkwardness. And in the heart of autumn, we married. In a truly romantic ceremony, we exchanged vows in a white gazebo beneath a starlit Las Vegas night.
Several years later, Hubby and I are still sharing love for each other and for words. Two writers, united in matrimony, with a little help from a catalytic hair stylist.
Who would have guessed that a haircut could lead to a husband, and a new life lived in the magic of wordlore.