Marshall: When your coiffeuse cuts out

This month, Bainbridge Islander columnist Becky Fox Marshall writes about a painful parting of ways with her longtime hairdresser.

There is a glaring error on the list of things that stress us out – that list so often referenced by the cranky: “Hey, I am off the stress chart so leave me alone.”

I totally get the top stressors – death of a spouse, divorce, job loss and one that would completely stress me out, “imprisonment.”

But the error of which I speak is a major omission – the loss of your hair stylist.

I don’t understand how this could be left off the list of 43 “life stressors” when it includes such things as, and I’m not kidding, “Change in number of family reunions.” Really? This stresses people out?

I’m not sure when the list was created, or by whom – all I can find is that it’s credited to unnamed “researchers” – but I can tell you it was undoubtedly devised by men – men who apparently disliked getting together with their families. And who had very little hair.

My hair stylist moved to another state in December. This stylist may just have been the longest-standing and most satisfying relationship of my life – outside my nuclear family and children. I figure we spent more than 200 hours together – averaging 1.25 hours together about every 6 weeks for 20 years. You get to know one another. We went through one another’s marriages and life milestones like the deaths of parents and pets, and the growing up, moving away and independence of children. But we were a constant. And she was an artist. She knew my hair – and not just its actual color.

Then she up and moved. Got herself a life, a new husband and a new chapter.

I am bereft, as you can imagine.

I am not a mover. I loved moving in college and the few years after graduation – every few months I’d relocate a couple boxes of books, my plastic stereo with super-cool detachable plastic speakers and my backpack and call it good. I had few responsibilities, so fostered no dependency upon services such as hair salons or garages.

But then I began gathering responsibilities, and overall, I am a barnacle. You can’t talk me into moving.

But I am happy for my stylist.

In trying to make myself feel better, I have taken a closer look at the list of stressors. I should be thankful for every one of them I have not experienced… like imprisonment (it was only a speeding ticket!), personal injury or illness (knock on wood), dismissal from work (well, I had a cab called for me once but I was allowed back in the building the next day).

I have lived through the death of a spouse, and although he was an ex-spouse, he was the father of my children. I have experienced divorce, separation, the death of a close family member, a change in financial state, a change to a different line of work and a major mortgage. Changes in work responsibilities, in-law trouble and children leaving home – check, check and check. Beginning or ending school. Yup. Change in living conditions. Sure.

I have not experienced retirement, although I hope to; nor have I experienced a foreclosure of a mortgage or loan.

Then I spot something I need to remind my hair stylist- change in working hours, or conditions, or career, or residence, or social activities – all stressors!!

Clearly she needs to drag that new chapter of hers back to Bainbridge, where she can calm herself by resuming her role as the keeper of my hair.

It’s not going to happen. But I hope we are someday reunited. Me in that chair with her circling around with scissors and combs, always working her magic, divulging her hopes and dreams. And I hope she never has to experience a change in family reunions.

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