Yesterday was an eventful day. It was time for my regular trip to my hairdresser, who happens to also be one of my best friends, as dear to me as my next breath.
Almost always, there are others at the salon who I know, since their schedule appears to be closely knit with mine (every five weeks, or buy a hat). It is often a reunion of sorts, women connected by place and a pair of remarkable scissors.
When I arrived, others were in various stages of trimming, cutting and styling but no one I recognized. I sat down and joined in a conversation with my friend and two of her customers. After about ten minutes, one of the ladies finished up and moved to the front desk for payment and scheduling of her next appointment. This left me with the other, who was adorned with various pieces of tinfoil and clips. Only a moment passed before I spoke….
“I know this sounds odd, but I know you. I’m not sure how, but I do. Are you from the area?”
“All your life?”
“Yes, pretty much.”
“Okay, well, I hate to ask but how old are you?” (You need a really good excuse for asking such a thing, especially in the south – and especially in a salon.)
“I graduated high school in 1980.”
“O, well, you would have graduated between my brother and my baby sister.”
“Maybe I know them.”
“Maybe. My brother is Stephen George, and my baby sister is………”
“Renee………o my God……….that means you must be Bobbie.”
“I’m Lynn……..was Lynn Barlow.”
And everything else fell together. My family and hers lived near to one another for most of my childhood. She has an older sister and an older brother, and we were stair-steps (the children of these two families)…….me, Mike, Janey, Debra, Stephen, Lynn, and Renee. While she and her brother had never moved away from the area, I had. Later, I recollected to my parents that I likely hadn’t seen Lynn in 40 years. And yet (and yet), I knew her.
Once I knew her name, I saw similarities to the girl I knew growing up. But before that, I suspect something deeper – a recognition of spirit, or perhaps a recognition of myself in history we share.
I recently commented to a friend here that we feel empty at times with the loss of presence in our life, and maybe the ache is as much for the person we were (when in their arms) as it is for the individual.
This morning, I was thinking on the entire evening – time reconnecting with an old friend, and time with my parents, putting names to pictures, people and places before my time. I thought of how our lives are interconnected with others, fit against each other, like pieces of a puzzle. You can remove a piece and insert another, but only one piece fits perfectly. Others may come close, but there’s always some overlap or space left between. Surely, it’s exactly as it should be for none of us can compare to another, as anyone else fails comparison with us.
Our stories are twisted together into one story. Even the faces in pictures from before my birth are of people whose stories were weaved with those of my parents, my grandparents – branches beyond my knowing. Tho ultimately, their story became some part of the beginning of my own.
Our world celebrates individuality, and even nature delights in variegations. And yet, there is a reason our roots run deep, tying and retying with those of others, becoming an anchor, a network, a family, a garden, a home.
Who we are is so much more than the words of one song, the leaves of one old tree.
send me not
the ways to grieve
for places passed before
when laid with you
beneath a northern sky
to other times –
faces we have changed
as the night
. . .