It’s after Namibia and before China. Zac and I are visiting our university area, and I go to get a haircut at one of those cheap $12 a cut places. It is a Thursday morning, and there is only one young woman running the shop. She clicks some keys on the computer and asks if I’ve been there before.
“Yes, but it was more than two years ago.”
“Ok,” she says, “what’s your phone number?”
“Well, I’ve moved. I can’t remember my old number.”
“Ok, let me check by your last name.” She looks Hispanic maybe, but she doesn’t have an accent.
“My name has changed—I got married—so try Shogren, s-h-o-g-r-e-n.”
“Nope, it not coming up. What’s your name now?”
“No, it’s not in there either. Let me just add you. What’s your current address?”
“Uh, I don’t have one, I’m just visiting.”
“Ok, I’ll just put ‘out of town.’ It’ll be about a twenty minute wait.”
I flip through magazines full of before and after pictures, and think the before looks better than the after, until she calls me. When I sit in the blue chair, she touches my hair and asks, “How do you want it cut?”
“To about here,” I indicate.
“You’re getting a lot cut off!”
“It just sort of grew out of control.”
“So, you’re from out of town?” She starts combing my hair.
“Yeah, we’re here visiting my husband’s mom and a couple of friends. We just got back from Namibia.” I add the necessary “in southern Africa.”
“What were you doing there?”
“We were teachers with the Peace Corps.”
“Did you meet your husband in the Peace Corps?” She sprays my hair with water and continues combing.
“No, we met here at OSU. I used to live right over there.” I gesture north of the shopping center.
“How long have you been married? You look really young.”
“For, uh, two years. I’m 24—almost 25.”
“I’m 23. I’d like to get married.”
“Do you have a boyfriend?”
“Yeah, but he’s still just a kid.” She fastens the top layer of my hair with a clip and begins cutting the layer underneath. There is a picture of her and her baby taped to the mirror.
“Where are you from originally?” I ask.
“I’ve always lived in Columbus.”
“Are you a student at OSU?”
She shakes her head, “No.” Lengths of my hair fall to the floor. “I’d like to travel though. Did you have to pay to go over there?”
“No, the Peace Corps paid everything. You don’t make a lot of money, but they pay for your airfare and insurance and a small salary.”
“How did you find out about it?”
“Um, I had a teacher in high school who did it, and she recommended it to me. Also other people who knew about the Peace Corps told me I should look into it.” She unfastens the top layer and combs it straight.
“I think I’d like to try it. What do you need to do it?” Her scissors trim the top layer of hair to match the bottom layer.
“Uh, a college degree, I think. Or experience. I’m not sure of the exact requirements.”
The doorbell dings. “I’ll be right with you.”
I look in the mirror. “That’s my husband.”
Zac walks over. “You’re getting a lot off!” My hair is strewn around the floor.
“It’ll just be a few more minutes.” She says, cutting the stray ends.
“I was just wondering,” I lied, “what should I do when I have frizzy hair? Should I use gel?”
“No, don’t use gel—that has too much alcohol in it. It will damage your hair. Here, you should use—um, let me get it.” She goes to the front of the shop where there are products sold only in salons.
“Here, use this. You rub a drop in your hands,” she shows me a slippery nickel sized drop, “then apply it to the ends, like this.” She massages the serum into the ends of my hair, then lightly rubs the top.
“Yeah, that looks good. Thanks.”
“Don’t use gel. It will damage your hair.” She combs it a bit more. “Ok, you’re finished.”
I buy the stuff she recommended, and say, “Keep the change.”
The receipt says her name is MiMi.