The other day when I went to get a haircut, I was feeling grand. My day was going along just fine and I had no complaints. It was good, you know?


And then I arrived at the salon. I was about ten minutes early, so I grabbed a book of photos from a rack and settled in. Within seconds, I realized the book I was perusing contained photographs of international aid installations and personnel. Some of the photos were beautiful. Some were devastatingly harsh. It occurred to me that I should simply return the book to its spot on the rack and find something more banal. But I didn’t. I thought that perhaps I had chosen that book for a reason, and that its contents deserved acknowledgement. So I kept turning pages, studying photos and reading captions. Before I realized it, I was quietly bawling. I looked up and two other patrons, both seated nearby, were staring at me.


People don’t be going to fancy hair salons on Melrose Avenue to cry. They also don’t be going there to see other people crying. But hey – at least I was quiet. My tears lasted only a few minutes, then someone came to tell me I should change into a smock, as my appointment was nigh. I was so grateful for the timing, I nearly hugged the messenger.


After getting color applied to my hair (and a fantastic conversation with Fernando, the colorist), it was time to have my hair washed. “Little Mama” is so good at this, y’all, that I look forward to seeing her as much as I do to getting my hair did. At some point, as Little Mama was massaging my scalp, I looked up at her and told her what a blessing it is to be touched so kindly by another human being. She commenced to tell me about how she has to read clients, in order to know when they’re receptive to a few extra minutes of scalp massaging, as not everyone cares for it. As she spoke, I fought back fresh tears. Her words gave me focus and allowed me to really listen to her and not drown in the wellspring of emotions I was having. She soon finished her job and I moved on to see my stylist, Carla.


I’ve been going to Carla for at least a decade and I love catching up with her. She’s a good, decent person and she is also immensely talented. (She ain’t cheap, either, so I only see her a few times a year.) By the time she had finished working her magic, I was ready to stroll the avenue to my car and make the drive home.


Sometimes I know I’m emotional. Sometimes it sneaks up on me. And once the pump is primed on my tear ducts, it’s hard to stem the flow! The other day reminded me of this and as challenging as it was, it was also pretty wonderful. I am susceptible to the pain brought on by harsh imagery. I am also susceptible to the joy brought on by human connection. I am able to soar so very high because I am able to sink so very low. It’s reciprocal. My emotions are just rigged that way.


One last thing… Just as I was about to leave Melrose Avenue to walk down a side street toward my car, three cute-as-could-be Japanese tourists asked if I’d take their photo. The three girls posed before a painted wall and I snapped a couple of pics. After thanking me profusely, I walked away. But not before hearing their joyful giggles when they saw the photos of themselves. As their laughter faded behind me, I realized I was smiling wide enough to let bugs in. And that’s when sweet tears began to fall once more…

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