Her eyes were dull and listless as she looked me square in the eye. She never even blinked when she said, “I have lived here off and on for thirty years and I don’t have many friends!”
It’s common for a customer to bear their soul to me as I dress their hair so, I waited for her to blink, or cry, or even say, “except you of course,” but none of those things happened.
I was finished with her hair and it seemed she still wanted to chat, so I sat down to visit with her.
The spark that had ignited her statement, was the conversation we were having about the close relationships I had with family and the deep friendships I shared with so many customers and acquaintances. I possess a very strong conviction about family. My personal motto would be “Ohana!” It is a word that means *family,* but it also encompasses the concept that, families are bound together and will never forget each other.
While I spoke, she looked at me like I had tried to teach her how to build a jet. She just could not wrap her brain around my thought process. It was like another language to her.
Since it was just the two of us, she started sharing the things that were on her heart. I listened to her speak with an almost mechanical, robot-like voice, devoid of any type of passion. As her words unfolded, so did my vision of tumbleweeds. They grew in abundance in Texas, where I lived as a child. They grew in places where water was scarce, and had very shallow roots. As the plant matured, it dried out and then detached from their root. When the wind blew, it tossed them to and fro, and then they followed the direction the wind steered them in. They never stopped to rest until they blew up against something solid, like a fence or a ravine. It seemed to me, they needed something to lean on. When the wind changed, it blow them another direction.
I was mesmerized by her story. Her voice, was void of tears, or pity, but was infused with regret and the wonder of, “What if?” It was her story… . .
“I’m eighty-three years old now and never made many friends. I have lived here off and on for thirty years and I still don’t have many people I am close to! “
She had my attention. How could she say that?
“You remember, don’t you, the first time you did my hair? I had just moved here and my sister brought me to the beauty shop with her .”
I nodded and she continued,
“I only lived here a year or two then moved to Texas. I move a lot you know. When I was small, my dad worked in the oil field. We moved thirty-three times before I graduated high school. We never were in one place long enough to make friends, and when we did, I had to leave them. It was easier to not make them. My sister wasn’t that way. She was younger than me and we stopped moving so much when she got in school. I never was really close to anyone but her, and she’s gone now.
I was married three times but it didn’t work out. For some reason, I just couldn’t stay happy.”
She pondered a moment longer, like she was reaching a long way back, then she continued.
“I adopted a son and we are kind of close but he lives in a big town. I don’t want to live there. I couldn’t drive or find my way around.
I have moved from here three times and always move back. I just can’t be happy in one place for very long. I’d like to sell my house and move again but I’m too old to move now.”
I listened with my heart this time. She had been my customer several times over the years. When she moved away, of course she would leave me, but in addition to that, she also felt the need to change hairdressers every two or three years. She always came back to me. It seemed odd, she didn’t know I was her friend, but now I know why. She had not had enough of them to recognize one. I suppose, I’ll have to teach her. 🙂 We both still have a little gas in our tanks!
P.S. I asked her permission to write her story. She will never read it, but I could not help but think she was not the only one that felt that way. We are all a product of our environment!