I love getting my haircut. I sport a short bob that grows in beautifully—I don't mean to sound egotistical, I have really good hair—but right after it's cut, I'm living a couple of days of hair perfection: smooth, sleek, shiny. People on the street turn and look. And I adore the man who cuts it. He's South American, effervescently adorable, bubbling over with enthusiasm every time I see him. After hugs and kisses we chatter away about anything from Britney Spears (he still adores her) to his newest favorite vegetables. At this point I know about his boy band history—he was the lead singer and traveled the world as a young teen suffering abuse at the hands of their manager. I know about his mother's surprising death after surgery. His sometimes challenging medical history. No matter what was going on, his emotions, when sharing with me, have always been strong, intense, palpable. Until yesterday. The moment I saw him I knew something was wrong in a way that supplanted all else I'd heard him go through.
His partner didn't want to be with him anymore. He wanted something else. Miguel knew this as he'd already found photos and online exchanges.
But, they had to remain together, at least physically. They own a house, they co-signed a lease on their apartment. They can't afford another place.
They're communicating through snippy text messages. Heartfelt emails. Silent accusations and pleas for understanding. Face to face, they don't talk.
Miguel said it hurt to breathe. He could barely get out of bed in the morning. My heart was breaking watching, listening to the ravages of pain. Tears stood out in my eyes as he fought to keep his under control.
And then, Angela peeked in. Angela's waxed me since before Iz was born. For some reason I couldn't bare the thought of giving birth without perfectly clean legs and as my belly grew and I couldn't see what I was doing anymore, I resorted to having hair ripped from my body with too hot wax. Sharp, hot pain, but not as bad as childbirth. I could deal. I also needed to have perfectly polished toes and went for pedicures on a regular basis—also something I'd never done before pregnancy, but that's not part of this story.
Angela found out Monday she's having a girl. The last time I'd seen her she was newly pregnant and visibly queasy both from unending nausea but also panic about having a baby. She's 42 and has wanted to be a mother more than anything. As I laid on that table, being coated with wax, gasping in shock at the hard tugs and flaming aftermath, over the years we shared the frustration of her boyfriend who couldn't commit, his eventual acquiescence, his inability to keep a job while she paid for everything. His affair with her best friend. Their bitter divorce in which he kept just about everything. The dating. Finding a great guy. And now this. Her fears that she was too old. That she was so used to her life a baby would destroy everything. Yesterday's relief of test results that showed all was good.
Different tears burned as I held my hand against her taut belly, knowing after all this time she was living her dream. That no matter how hard it would be, and it would be hard, this baby was what she'd desperately longed for.
And it hit me. In that moment, sitting with a half-dried head in front of a full length mirror, wrapped in a black nylon cape, the enormity of profoundly different experiences needing to co-exist. In time. In space. In that cubicle. Mind-blowing pain. Subdued joy mixed with anxiety. My own thrill at having just found the most extraordinary vintage coat (pink, purple and magenta plaid wool, mod buttons, double-breasted, late 1960s, 75% off no less), Jack's low level boredom as he slumped in the chair next to me, somewhat lost in an ipod app.
Sharing her joy. Empathizing with his ache. Subduing my excitement. Placating Jack as he started to squirm.
I walked out of there, hair swinging, heart full, more grateful than ever for where I am in my life. It won't always be so even keeled. There have been, and there will be, periods of my heart being torn apart, of sobbing on the floor, of grief and panic. Of thrill, of love, of challenges I don't know I can survive. But life is calm at the moment and while I usually rail against the banality of these periods, right now I appreciate it in a way I never have before.