Oh, the drama. Oh, the angst. Oh, the shame of it all.
I cheated on my hairdresser. And I got caught.
It's not like we had a long-term relationship. I suppose you could argue that we had an "agreement" - but, really, it had never been stated explicitly. It just sort of evolved that way. I started seeing her casually, and then it was just easy to book a follow up appointment on my way out the door, and the next thing I knew we had an exclusive thing going.
But, honestly, I hadn't been seeing her that long. And in my defense, I was just coming out of a ten-year relationship with my former hairdresser. That, in itself, is a long story - my ex-hairdresser is a lovely woman who was with me through a lot of tough times. I care about her - I will always care about her - but things had just run their course, you know? It had become same old, same old in the haircut department and our schedules were such that we were having trouble finding time for each other. And I just needed a change - I needed something new and exciting - I needed some pampering. So when my colleagues started coming back to the office with fabulous new hairstyles... well, it didn't take much convincing to make me stray.
It was some time last summer that I first went to The Salon and met my most recent stylist, Rachel. We were set up on a blind match, and at first it felt like maybe there was something there, but I see now that I was just on the rebound - and perhaps, if I'm being totally honest, I was looking for a trophy stylist.
And Rachel certainly fit the bill. She's young - out of her teens, but not by much. And she's stunningly gorgeous, in that casual , natural way that looks effortless. And she's petite and graceful and lovely in spiky high heels that she stands in all day without getting blisters. The reality was, no matter how fabulous I felt walking in the door, after just a few minutes in Rachel's presence I felt like a barn animal. An old barn animal.
It wasn't her; it was me. Truly. She's just as sweet and as gracious as can be. But she's quiet - an introvert - and so am I. And we didn't have a lot to talk about to start with, so once we got through a few minutes of "how 'bout this weather," we spent most of the rest of the haircut in silence. Not especially awkward silence, but silence nonetheless. But it was fine. I didn't have a reason to end it. And the haircuts were good. So I stayed with Rachel for months.
Then, sometime in November, I got a call from The Salon telling me that Rachel had taken a very sudden leave of absence because of a family emergency and she wouldn't be able to do my December haircut. They fixed me up with someone else. Meg.
Meg is a dream come true.
First, she's experienced. She knows what she's doing. Where Rachel is measured and patient and careful, Meg is carefree and loose and creative. And I can relate to Meg: She's closer to my age. She's a mom of boys. She has pictures at her station of her newly-remodeled kitchen. We have the same gynecologist, for heaven's sake. It's like it was meant to be. Being with her was just so easy, you know?
But she's a responsible professional. She was fabulous, but she kept her distance. She gave great hair advice, but couched it in "I'm sure Rachel has mentioned that..." and "You could talk to Rachel about..." She made it clear that she knew I was taken. So, when I stopped at the desk before I left that appointment and had to book my follow-up, I booked it with Rachel. But I couldn't stop thinking about Meg. So three weeks later, I called back and switched.
I'm one of many to Rachel, I told myself. It's been so long, she probably doesn't even remember me. I was too old for her anyway. She'll be relieved.
I said it enough that I believed it, which made me able to show up for my appointment with Meg today - well, if not confidently, then at least not sheepishly.
Meg came out to meet me in the waiting room, and I thought I caught a look in her eye. But of what? Surprise? Confusion? Delight? I couldn't be sure, and it lasted just a second before she fell into that easy, breezy Meg banter that made me sigh and start dreaming of our future together. I was so caught up in it, in fact, that I was startled when, as I was laying backwards with my head dangling into the sink, I felt a tap on my shoulder, and I looked up to see the upside-down but smiling face of Rachel. Sweet, young, beautiful Rachel. She waved, and I stammered: "HEY! Welcome back! It's so great to see you!" My words said "I had no idea I could have scheduled with you!", but I know that my eyes betrayed me, as even upside-down they laid it out bluntly and without apology: "I'm just not that into you."
I tried to put it out of my mind. I tried to focus on the engaging chatter that Meg was so bravely offering up. I tried to remember that when Meg was done working her magic, I would look just a little less like Keith Urban. I tried. But, to my horror, I soon discovered that Rachel's station had moved since the last time I'd seen her, and now - yes, you know where this is going - now it is right in front of Meg's.
So I listened to Meg's delightful monologue as I watched Rachel - focused, hardworking, quiet Rachel - silently cut the hair of a woman who I think looked older than me, but who is probably five years my junior. And as I sat and listened and felt the magic of Meg's clip-swirl-clip, I was overcome with conflicting emotion. I was so happy to be where I was, and yet I felt terrible about feeling so happy. I can only equate it with the feeling one has at the senior prom when one sneaks away from one's prom date to go make out in the hallway with one's ex-boyfriend (er... not that I would do that... what kind of person would do that?)
And then there was the moment - after the final reveal (ta-da! fabulous hair!) and before I walked out the door - when Meg walked me to the reception area and said with the political neutrality of Switzerland, "Brianna can help you if you'd like to schedule another appointment."
And I did. Schedule, I mean. With Meg. But I feel just awful about it. And what's worse, I feel that I'm without options - that I've made myself a hair salon pariah. Stick with Meg and make her an accomplice to my betrayal, or return to Rachel despite the fact that we both know it would not be because I wanted to, but because I felt I had to.
I'm stuck. And angst-ridden.
But my hair? It's fabulous.