I have a hazy recollection of playing doctor with a boy when I was six. I think my mother caught us. Or maybe I made it up. I really don’t know. Most people can chronicle episodes from early childhood. I can’t. What I do remember is my first job. I was eleven. And I made .25 cents an hour. No I’m not THAT old! Well, maybe I am.
Every week my mother went to the hairdressers. My dad was a military man. We lived in Ottawa in a basement apartment and we were four kids. I think we were poor but we didn’t really know it. Either way every week my momma went to the beauty salon.
I remember her hairdresser so well mainly because she gave me my first job. I got to wash hair on Saturdays for .25 cents an hour. At the end of the day I would take the used towels, wash them out by hand and hang them outside on a clothesline. It’s not that washer/dryers didn’t exist… I’m sure they did. But we didn’t have one at the salon. Can you magine hanging and taking down frozen towels, in minus 10 degrees, in the brutal Ottawa winter?
Momma would tell me stories about her sisters who were born with their amazing Irish curly reddish hair. She was so jealous. So every couple of months she would get what was called a “permanent.” She would sit with chemicals in her hair and rollers that were supposed to make her hair curly for a month or two at a time. I don’t know if that even exists today. And then, weekly, her hairdresser who had the most beautiful Amber Rose blond pixie cut hair would put Momma’s straight/sometimes chemically induced curls, in metal rollers, and sit her under a huge bubble hairdryer to set. I never ever saw my mother wash her own hair.
Over the years I went to the hairdressers only for a cut or colors–yes I’ve always been a fan of multi-colors. I’ll blame that on my passion for fashion. Beauty parlors were never my thing—until last year. I went from a spiky short cut that had been my trademark for twenty years and let my hair grow shoulder length. And now, going to see Miriam (aka MY hairdresser) every week has become my “thing.” And every time I go, I remember my mother. And my aunt who had those luxurious curls that my momma loved so much.
This morning I sent this photo to my sister.
Momma would have loved my curls.