After nearly 21 years, my hairstylist quit me.
Even though I somewhat expected it, I was still caught off guard. L hand me an envelope and a bag of product samples at the end of our last appointment.
“What’s this?” I asked.
“You can open it later,” she said.
Later was while I was sitting in my car on the parking lot.
The envelope held a handwritten note. L started by thanking me for my years of support. She went on to explain that she is taking a break from hairstyling. She recently took on a new job that is highly demanding, and it was increasingly difficult to manage both responsibilities.
I understood, but that note was a kick in the stomach. I went through the five stages of grief in unexpected order. Before I drove off the lot, I picked up my phone and contacted two friends for the names of their stylists. (Acceptance is the last stage of grief.)
Then I got mad. She dumped me with a note? We’d been together for 21 years! There is no other person on the planet that I trust to touch my hair. How did I not get a face-to-face conversation and a little notice? (Anger is the second stage of grief.)
I reminded myself of what I’ve learned of L during the past 21 years. She is caring and extremely sensitive. Saying goodbye, even if in the short term, was something she just could not do.
I drove to the nearest Ulta Beauty and filled a basket with non-needed cosmetics. I caught a glimpse of my eyebrows as I was testing out lipgloss. I had forgotten to ask L to shape them. I put everything back and asked the consultant at the beauty bar for help. She complimented me on my hair, and I nearly started to cry. I told her my hairstylist had just quit, and she tried to console me as she ripped wax strips from my brow. (Depression is the fourth stage of grief.)
I spent the next six weeks believing L’s new job would ease up so that she could come back. I hoped she would decide to take on a few customers at a reduced schedule. As my color grew out and my ends showed signs of needing a trim, I continued to ignore the stylists recommendations I had requested. (Bargaining and denial are stages one and three.)
I wised up about a week ago after realizing that my mom has had not one, but two appointments with a new stylist. If she could move on, so could I. I scheduled a consolation with T, someone who came highly recommended by three good friends. She’s doing my hair tomorrow.
I won’t lie. I like her, but I’m scared. I remember feeling the same way 21 years ago, and that worked out just fine. This probably will too.