Excerpted from my BlogHer post at the request of folks who want to find everything on my blog without having to link around.  I agreed, but just this time . . .

I was really depressed until January this year because of all the things I missed about Seattle, but apart from the environmental changes, my own changes really caught me off guard.  I’m married to a gorgeous, adoring 35 year old Aztec . . . and I’ll be 50 this year.  I thought I was prepared for that . . . how wrong I was.

I never thought I’d miss my hairdresser the way I do.  I yearn to go to that place with sparkling stainless steel, burnished tile floors, padded hydraulic chairs, hot water pouring over my scalp as I lean back in a curved ceramic basin.  I miss that time under the dryer with warm air caressing the edges of my face, current fashion magazines to browse, water with lemon on the side table. 

I miss my hair.

When Miguel and I met I had waist length sable hair.  Two years later a systemic staph infection turned my hair 80% white from the crown forward.  I started coloring my hair.  By 2006 I had finally gotten it to where I liked it – dark streaks scattered across the white just enough so I didn’t look washed out.  I loved my look. 

Conceding the fact that I have never been to a hair salon in a tourist area of Mexico, I will make the broad declaration that in Mexico even the best hairdressers aren’t talented enough to accomplish that kind of magic.  They’ve also never heard of foiling, so highlights are still done by ripping strands of your hair through a plastic cap with a metal crochet hook.  There are no health inspectors, either, so the majority of the salons give me the willies.  It’s not so much that the floors aren’t swept clean after every cut, or that the rinse water is sloshed over my head with a bowl dipped in a 5 gallon bucket of water warmed by throwing an electrical appliance into it.  It’s the brushes.  Assorted brushes.  Jammed into a plastic jug.  With other people’s hair still in them.  Almost as bad, they don’t take appointments.  You have to just go and wait until they get to you.  You can’t even pay to get an appointment.

The first time the highlights came out okay, but the second time not so much.  I decided to forget the highlights and do my own dye job from a box.  I went to the local equivalent of Fred Meyer and bought a box of Preference by L’Oreal.  I even recognized the picture of the model on the box of Dark Brown Permanent color.  This was known territory.  An hour later my hair was black.  Pitch black.  It was so black that at the street party we went to that night the adolescent Goth Girls all decided to hang out with me to show their moms that Goth isn’t so corrupting after all.  See, Mom, this old lady does it, why can’t I?  I crawled back to the salon on Monday.

The hairdresser’s eyes went wide when I walked in.  The highlights were gone. “Yes, well, you were busy when I came by on Friday and I got impatient, and, well . . .”

The stylist just smiled politely, sat me down and stripped my hair.  After two hours of chemical assault on my lungs I came out with dark brown hair.  Two days later I came out of the shower and my hair was black again.  I don’t know what happened.  It certainly wasn’t on purpose.  I went back to the salon and just pointed at my head.  Another strip and re-dye job and my lungs were as fried as my hair.

I waited until I couldn’t stand the roots anymore and I found another salon.  This one across the street from our house tacked onto the front of a neighbor’s house.  Señora Juanita and her one-person salon with a matching plastic jar of hairy brushes.  Her daughter does manicures on the weekend.  My hair came out dark brown and I was happy.  The second time, not so much. 

I thought I’d give the box another shot.  This time a different brand.  Maybe it was a quality control issue.  And Light Brown.  Yeah, light brown.  An hour later and my hair was black again.  I decided I could live with black.  In fact, by this time I’d been looking around and noticed that in Mexico you have three choices of hair color if you don’t want to be a bleached blonde – black, blacker and red.  Yep, I could live with black.

But then – surprise – my roots came back.  I felt old with those white roots.  My husband and his sister told me I was crazy.  “It just looks like you have a really wide part in your hair.  Like more of your scalp is showing.”  Well, that was just what I wanted to hear.

My sister-in-law sent me to her hairdresser.  Nice lady.  Cleaner in-home salon.  Same jar of brushes.  Now I have to bend over a cement sink on the patio for the rinse water.  She wanted to make me a blonde.  After the strip and re-color my hair is now a golden copper colored.  Not quite the red that my mother always colored her hair, and that I swore I would never do to myself.  But now even that is seeming like a good idea because this copper color has definitely got to go. 

It’s a good thing I work over the Internet.

Update since original publication:  I couldn’t stand the red hair even after a week.  My mother-in-law came back Sunday morning and said the salon was open (unusual for a Sunday).  I ran right over.  An hour later I came out Light Golden Brown.  Whatever.  It’s not red, so I’m happy.  Let’s see if she can repeat the performance in a month.  I’ll keep you posted.

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