Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Road Trip, Part 10: Get Out Of My Hair

I looked in the mirror at the finished product and tried to remain optimistic. I’d watched enough natural hair videos on Youtube to salvage this, I thought. There was a battle raging inside me. One side was screaming, “I look like a fucking 10-year-old!” The other side was saying in a calm, soothing voice, “Don’t panic. You will find a way to make this work.”

I made a little face in the mirror as Mr. Pretentious fluffed my hair. “I kinda feel like I look like a 10-year-old,” I said.

“Yeah, the twists in the front are a little juvenile,” he said. “You have two different styles going on. I wish you had gotten one or the other.”

“Well, when I was describing the type of style I wanted, I would expect a stylist to have a look in mind before they do my hair...”

“... and work it,” he said.

“Exactly.” Then, there was silence.

I couldn’t tell Mr. Pretentious I wanted a new style. It had been an extremely long trip and I didn’t have it in me to argue with this stranger. I also didn’t trust his skills as a stylist. Even if he had done it over, what if whatever he did came out jacked up? I didn’t have the patience to risk it. I paid him and left. The coils themselves were neatly done, they just weren’t stylishly done.

When my dad first saw me, he didn’t say a word. He knew I hated my hair and was treading lightly. He’s not too keen on the natural hair thing, anyway, so I’m sure he thought this was what I get for refusing to press my hair.

My mood and confidence were both in the dumps. We got in the car and started to drive to the mall. I needed to buy a dress for my grandfather’s funeral. Clearly, when I packed for the trip, I hadn’t known I’d need to bring funeral attire. The mix of disappointment in my hairstyle and the stress of the week was too much. I sat in the passenger seat and cried. I felt silly and shamed for crying but the tears wouldn’t stop.

“I don’t know what you’re crying for,” my dad said. “Why’d you pay him if you didn’t like it?”

I was beyond annoyed. Why couldn’t he at least be quiet until I had gotten it  out of my system? He tried talking about something else. My replies were curt and bitter.

“Don’t be mad at me! I didn’t do it!” he shouted.  

All the while I had been texting my cousin, Jackie, to meet us at the mall. She’d know what to do. She was always good with hair and would be able to tell me how to fix it.
Once we got to Lenox Square mall, I quickly found a stylish black dress on sale at Bloomingdale’s. Jackie met us in the store and I wanted to immediately talk about how to fix my ‘do but it wasn’t the right time. I did, however, get her to agree to help me fix the mess before the wedding.

As we left Bloomingdale’s, I remembered, “Damnit. I don’t have any shoes to wear with this dress.” I had only brought sandals, club shoes and the shoes for the wedding. The wedding shoes were black and low enough for my funeral dress but they were satin. There was no way I could wear them in a muddy cemetery.

Once again, good fortune was on my side. I found some adorable black leather pumps with a cute bow in the front in Nine West. AND they were on sale! My shopping was done in record time.

The weight started ascend from my chest, as time went on. I still felt like people were staring at my head but I knew it was all in my mind. I turned my confidence up a notch and kept it moving.

With our shopping done, my dad and I headed out to the bride-to-be’s house way out in Fairburn, GA. When we walked in, my goddad fixed my dad a bowl of hog maws and my godmom sat at the dining room table, decorating a box for the wedding guests to put cards in.

After about a half hour, my godsister emerged from upstairs. “Sarah, why aren’t you dressed? Put some heels on. Let’s go!”

“Oh shit,” I thought. “I forgot about her bacherlorette party!”

Saturday, June 25, 2011

The Road Trip, Part 9: Hair Horrors

Passing out from exhaustion in our hotel beds at The Historic Tutwiler hotel in downtown Birmingham allowed our overwhelmed minds and bodies a night to recover. The next morning my dad and I enjoyed the continental breakfast and headed on our way to Atlanta. It was Thursday, April 28th and I had an 11:30 AM hair appointment to get my hair together for the wedding.

The plan was to leave early enough to make it to Atlanta about an hour or so before my appointment just in case we ran into traffic or got lost. As we travelled down the highway, my godsister (the soon-to-be bride) texts to make sure we were ok. She inquired about our whereabouts and what time my hair appointment was. After receiving my reply she texts, “Speed!” Her response puzzled me. I thought we were making good time and would make it to Atlanta well ahead of my appointment time. “Birmingham is in a different time zone, dummy!” she said.

I sank into the passenger seat and made the, “you’ve got to be shitting me” face. I refused to be worried about and hoped we’d get there just in time, which we did.

The idea to get my hair done in Atlanta was not my own. I have an amazing stylist here in DC and planned to have her hook me up for the wedding. My godsister preferred I get my hair done in Atlanta in hopes of my hair being “fresh” for the big day. The only issue is, I don’t wear my hair straight and she couldn’t suggest any natural stylists in the city. I am VERY particular about who puts their hands in my hair, so, I was extremely wary of going to an unknown stylist. After turning to twitter for help and still not being able to get any suggestions, I did my best to pick from a handful of stylists I found via google.

I walked into the shop exactly at 11:30. The shop was in a nice neighborhood somewhere near downtown Atlanta but there was no sign on the outside of the building. I walked up a flight of stairs and there were two doors. One was clearly marked as a dance studio and the other had no markings at all. I opened this mystery door to find a pretty nice, and clearly new, hair salon. I walked to the reception desk to find a balding man with what looked to be dry s-curl looking down at a laptop. He did not look up at me or even acknowledge my presence.

“Hi. I’m Sarah. I have an 11:30 appointment with [stylist’s name redacted].”

“Ok, have a seat.”

I chuckled to myself as I stood there. Rude, pretentious people crack me up. I have to laugh to keep myself from cracking their skulls.

I sat down in the waiting area and was soon met by a friendly young man who kind of reminded me of Disney’s Pocahontas with a lip piercing. We chatted about the products I use in my hair and the type of style I had in mind. I thought, “Ok. This might just work out.” I soon found that Pocahontas wasn’t my stylist, he was just going to wash my hair. “Oh lord, Mr. Pretentious with the S-Curl is going to be doing my hair,” I thought.

Pocahontas walked me to the shampoo bowl where we were met by Mr. Pretentious’ rude ass. “What’s she getting today?” he asked Pocahontas as if I couldn’t speak for myself.  Mr. Pretentious stuck his hands into my hair and felt around, while Pocahontas told him what I wanted.

After Pocahontas washed my hair I asked Mr. Pretentious for his opinion on my style. “I want twists in the front and something curly in the back that I can pin up for the wedding. What do you suggest? A twist out or something else?”

He turned in his chair and suggests a coil out. I’d never had coils in my hair but thought they may turn out nice. I was mostly trusting that Mr. Pretentious had a look in mind, thus his suggestion, so I rolled with it.

Pocahontas started to flat twist my hair in the front. My stylist in DC does small, intricate flat twists. These were huge in contrast. He asked me how far back I wanted the twists to go before the coils started. I showed him with my hand and he made a face. “If you have them go back to here,” he said pointing near my ear, “then the coils could start from there.” He was the professional, so I trusted his judgement. One he got halfway done with the twists, I thought, “Maybe this will turn out cuter when it’s all done.”  

After Pocahontas got done with the twists, I was still skeptical. Once Mr. Pretentious finally came over to do the coils, I asked him if he thought the style of the flat twists would look right with the coils or if they went too far back. “I think he did them a too big,” he said. Um... sir? You sat there and let your assistant do something to my head that you didn’t think you could work with and didn’t say a word? He then assured me it would come together once the coils were done and they had a chance to expand in the humidity. Again, I trusted him.

Mr. Pretentious globbed handfuls of Miss Jessie’s products into my hair. “Most people don’t use enough product,” he said in what I can only assume was his response to the look of horror on my face. He asked me about what types of products I used in my hair. I told him I used all natural products, to which he replied, “With all the technology we have now, people don’t need to use that stuff anymore.” At that point, I knew I had made a drastic mistake.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

The Road Trip, Part 8: Tornadoes and GPS Woes

Having dodged one twister sized bullet, it was time to figure out how to get out of this traffic and on to Atlanta. Traffic was at a stand still on Hwy 78 and our GPS would only reroute us to the same road.

My dad called the family friend we were going to stay with when we got to Atlanta that night to let her know we'd be coming in late. She quickly advised us to find a hotel in Birmingham for the night because there were multiple tornadoes making their way to the ATL. Even if we had missed the tornado in Alabama, had we not been stuck in traffic we would probably have run into a twister on the way to Georgia. I'd never been so grateful for a ingrown nail in all my days.

We pulled into a parking lot where a 18-wheeler was parked. The driver was also on his way to Atlanta. He said there was a back way to get around the traffic but he wasn't sure of the exact route. We called around to find a hotel with power and found a couple available in downtown Birmingham. Just how exactly were we supposed to get downtown without using the highway in a city we'd never been to before? The hotel attendants couldn't give us any directions over the phone so, we were on our own.

NIghtfall quickly came and so did the rain. We decided to follow some cars into a residential area and see if we could get far enough away from the highway to get the GPS to reroute us using the streets only. Dead end after dead end in a pitch-black city was not only frustrating but frightening. Somehow we came to a road with lots of cars being rerouted away from Hwy 78. The detour was treacherous. Maneuvering around fallen trees in the road and downed power lines in the rain was enough to make one weary.

I worried for my dad. He was already under immense stress from his father's passing, now he had to dodge tornadoes? Would this be too much? I looked for signs of breaking in his face but there were none. I saw only intense focus and determination to get us to safety.

After a close call with a hanging power line coming loose directly above our car, we were able to find our way to the hotel. We even made it just before room service closed. My dad had a Reuben and fries with strawberry cheesecake for dessert. I had a Caesar salad, scallops and spinach risotto. I ate most of my dad's cheesecake. It seemed it tasted better than any cheesecake I ever had. In the midst of a week of death and destruction, this sliver of sweetness was much appreciated.