I've moved around a bit. And moving is such a pain in the ass. It really is. But the most distressing and traumatic thing about moving to a new city is trying to find a new hair stylist. It sucks. If you've ever moved to a new city, you know how much it sucks. It sucks more than the packing of boxes and the unpacking of boxes. It sucks more than the long drive. It sucks more than getting gas, electric, phone, and wireless hooked up. It sucks more than finding a new doctor and dentist. Which is why, after having lived here for almost two YEARS, I still hadn't found a suitable hair stylist. However, my blind wanderings in the wasteland of unfamiliar stylists may have come to a conclusion yesterday morning...er...afternoon rather.
People tell me that the best way to go about finding a stylist you like is to find someone's hair you like and simply ask them who does it. In theory, this sounds like a great idea. In reality, it is extremely difficult to first, find someone who has curly hair (as I do) and second, to find someone with curly hair who has it cut and styled to my liking. In fact, nearly impossible. The wife of one of my co-workers has naturally curly hair and though she doesn't wear it how I would ever wear mine, it always looks cute on her. So, in an attempt to put the ask-someone-whose-hair-you-like theory into practice, I asked. And was told that she drives all the way to Madison (a scary little redneck hick town north of Nashville) to get her hair did. Oh-no. I refuse to drive outside of the city limits to get a freakin' hair cut.
So, over the past two YEARS I have asked around, I have done online research, and have perused the yellow pages in the hopes of stumbling across a bonafide hair wizard. You laugh, but I have had two, what can only be called, hair wizards in my life, and I balk at settling for anything less. When I moved to Lincoln, it only took me about 9 months and two missses before I found Katie. Katie was a gem. She worked at a small, young, funky salon in the Haymarket and she just intuitively knew what to do with my unruly hair. For the next four years I was in hair stylist nirvana. Then I moved. And I cried as my last appointment with the genius Katie ended, knowing I would never find another Katie.
How wrong I was. I found an even better Katie. I found a Kate! No kidding - her name was Kate and she worked at Salon H2O in Erie. Again, it took me a while and a few less-than-satisfactory hair experiences to find her, but once I did, it was pure bliss. No more anxiety over going to get my hair cut, no more leaving the salon with tears welling up in my eyes. Oh how I miss Kate. She had a magical way with curly hair. I loved her and now she's gone. *sniff* (oh c'mon! surely I'm not the only one out there who has dramatic relationships with their hair stylists....am I?)
And here I've been in Nashville, slowly falling in love with the city, finally learning my way around, settling in...but that one critical thing has been missing all this time - a hair stylist to call my own. I have gone through a handful of salons and at least as many stylists since I've been here. Each time I would go, I would go with trepidation, but hope as well. Hope that THIS time I would find my next Kate/ie. I should've just called around to every salon in town until I found one employing a stylist named Kate/Katie!
Yesterday morning at 9:30, I found myself walking into Plush Studio on 7th and Church. Right downtown next to the Hilton. Parking is not terribly convenient but at least it's not in Madison! I made the appointment in desperation Thursday morning. I hadn't had a hair cut in like 5 or 6 months. Totally gun-shy by this point and becoming more and more convinced I would have to endure bad hair cuts forever, I punched the number into the telephone and waited for a voice. I am always somewhat suspicious when an appointment can be made that soon, but again, I was desperate.
Plush is a teeny tiny light-filled box owned and occupied by two women - Marcie and Troy Lynn. My appointment was with Marcie, the younger of the two women. Near my age I would guess and totally, genuinely friendly. Not in the least phony or fakey or annoyingly perky, like so many stylists I've had the misfortune of meeting. We got down to business right on time and she asked me what I had in mind.
Now, I'll openly admit to being somewhat persnickety when it comes to my hair, but at the same time, I am fully aware of my hair situation and am not delusional. I don't have any expectations of walking out of a salon looking like Nicole Kidman walking on the red carpet. My hair requests are reasonable and realistic...I just am not always capable of clearly explaining what those requests are, which is why it often requires the psychic abilities of a hair wizard (i.e. Kate/Katie) to fully interpret my disjointed instructions.
This is what came rapidly tumbling out of my inarticulate mouth yesterday morning when Marcie asked me what I had in mind:
Oh you know, cuz it's curly...but like, a weird curly, you know?...like REALLY curly on top but not as much underneath...and here, see this? (as I lift a piece of hair)...something has got to be done with this...it looks like...a dog's ear or something...and then back here...it's just too heavy...so like maybe layers up underneath or something like that...I like it sorta random and messy....you know..low maintenance...like I don't really care about how it looks...but I do of course...and as for color...I like this dark thing I've got going but I thought some big chunky highlights would give it some depth....nothing blended or zebra-ish and not too light... you know, big hunks...but subtle color...
I think I rambled on some more but it became increasingly incoherent and finally she just went to work. I kept looking at the strands she was pulling out to highlight and vaguely thought, "oh wow..those look really thin and evenly spaced out". But then I went back to my contemplation of the space around me (yes, this is your fate if you are an architect) and quickly came to the conclusion that it desperately requires the immediate services of a professional interior designer. STAT! It's not a bad space at all...definitely has potential. Cool, urban-ish locale, REALLY high ceilings and big windows letting in lots of natural light. But then there are the stark white walls, the overhead fluorescent lighting embedded in 2x4 water stained acoustic ceiling tiles. Blech! There's also the white mini-blinds at the front window and a hideous looking television set mounted to the wall. Add to that a random radio station playing in the background and the atmosphere left much to be desired!
If you've ever had color done, you know it's quite a lengthy process what with all the foiling and the waiting and the putting on of the toner and what not. So, she finally settled in to actually cutting my wet and recently highlighted hair and I got this low feeling of dread deep in my gut as I looked back at myself in the mirror and saw thin blondish highlights streaked along the top of my head. I think Marcie physically felt me recoil at the reflection in the mirror because she tentatively inquired, "what do you think of the highlights?"
"Well...um okay I guess...it's hard to tell when my hair is wet...do you think they'll get darker and bigger and less noticeable when my hair dries?" Essentially, do you think they will change completely and become something entirely different when my hair dries? Uh. no. To her credit, instead of getting all huffy and offended like so many other stylists have reacted - as if I was deeply criticizing their skill - she looked concerned and suggested she finish cutting my hair and then we'd dry a chunk of it, assess the situation and go from there. I accepted this plan of action, worried that I would end up saying, "oh it's fine..really...I'll get used to it".
The cut was great. Really, she understood the dynamics of my hair and made the necessary adjustments. She understood when I said "the more random, the better". And she made a few professional suggestions to get the curls on top to lay better. She had some useful product tips to pass along. Seriously, I had flashbacks to my Kates, it was that good.
And so I was reluctant to make a fuss over the botched highlights. I figured at least I got a good cut out of the deal and I could just move on to another stylist in another 5 or 6 months. *sigh* But, Marcie was so genuninely concerned and so gracious in her offer to fix it, that I found myself relaxing. She went and got some hair books and suggested we both look through them to make sure we were on the same page (so to speak). After some time and discussion, we were both satisfied that she understood what I was envisioning. So, four hours after having arrived at Plush Studio, I walked out with great looking hair exactly as I had imagined it would look. And Marcie didn't even charge me for round two of hair coloring fun. I think she's a keeper! I just may have found my next Kate...hooray!