My bus didn’t leave until late on Friday after our retreat. I, and three other YAGM, hung out at the Leiseth house preparing to take the long overnight bus ride back to our site places. I had hoped to have one of the girl’s cut my hair during the retreat, but we did not have good enough scissors. Luckily on Friday, Tessa and Isaac were heading to the salon to get their hair cut and they let me tag along. Fortunately for me the hair salon squeezed me in.
As I was getting my hair washed, I was struck with how similar the salon was to the US and how different it is when I go with my host mom to get her hair done. There were fancy cushion chairs and couches with a table in the middle and magazines full of hair styles. There were crystal looking chandlers hanging from the ceiling and music playing overhead. It felt very…familiar. I sat in a large cushioned chair that reclined backwards for me to rest my head at the edge of the stand-alone sink where the woman used a spray hose to wet my hair and wash it. I then sat in a spinning chair which looked into an individual large mirror, just like the stations in salons in the US. There were four stations. There were even little carts that carried all of the hair “stuff” on them-combs, scissors, brushes, hair dryers, etc.
As I sat there, I looked at the top of the mirrors and noticed that they had words on them. The four words, one in each mirror, said “Laugh, Love, Live, Hope.” I then realized that there were smaller, cursive words under each. “Laugh often; Love deeply; Live simply.” (I did not even make it to hope because I was so struck by this). Hmm…simply, eh? When I go with my mom to get her hair styled, we sit on plastic chairs outside in the shade. No fancy sinks, no magazines (although some do have a photo book of hair styles that they have done), no sparkling lights, comfy chairs, or large mirrors; just the wax for her dreads and the yarn and scissors to tie it off.
I sat there, getting my hair cut, holding these two experiences with the phrase ‘live simply’ rolling over and over in my head. What does it mean to live simply? What does it mean to have two very different and both beautiful ways of getting hair done? There are so many more questions of culture, community, accessibility, and influence from others that all I can manage to think about are feelings, and I am not even able to articulate the feelings that I feel, they are just colors inside me. I can’t formulate questions; I can just stand and wonder. No judgment. Just curiosity.