Some may think that I am obsessed with my appearance. Taking pride in the way I present myself to the world should not be misconstrued as obsession. I am no oil painting and achieving a presentable appearance is not an easy feat; this is done 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 five 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 have known my stylist since she was an apprentice at the salon (I have been a loyal customer there for the past eight years).

I saw her develop into an exceptional hairstylist who has been rewarded with 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 of 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 and 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 were 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 scalp disease. I was starting to pine for the comforts of a real salon; intelligent conversation, juicy gossip and a professional hair cut.

As luck would have it, my husband befriended a husband and wife stylist team, whom 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 that going to a new stylist is as frightening as discovering your brakes 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 was 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 what I wanted with my new stylist and his explaining to me what we could realistically 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 eight years I was allowed smoke breaks during treatments – a big plus! The staff appeared to enjoy their work, had a passion for what they did and the skills to match. I left the salon looking great. Finally I was blond again and had 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 previous salon. I will miss the times I spent there and the people I came to know. My stylist’s 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 whom 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!

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