The value of putting notes in pockets

Alice has half-blue hair.For years, I cut my girls' hair. This had to stop when school pictures started. There's this one year Alice's bangs ... well, I just can't talk about it. So we found a stylist at a salon a few blocks away and for a couple of years, everything was just great.

So great, in fact, that some of my friends started to ask who was cutting Alice's hair. One, a woman I've known since we were younger than my kids are now, even started driving in from another city so she could get a similar cut (which looks just as good on her as it does on Alice).

A few months ago, and not long after I'd taken the girls in for a trim, I was cleaning out Alice's pockets when I found a note. It was from Jessica, their stylist, who was writing to let me know she was switching salons and would love to keep cutting the girls' hair--either at the new place or at our house. 

I loved it. Every parent wants their kids to go out into the world and be pleasant enough that people who do not share their DNA like being with them. And so we went to the new salon, a super-edgy spot in one of Seattle's trendiest neighborhoods. Needless to say, there were no other little girls around.

When Alice's hair started looking like it was melting into her forehead, I called the edgy new shop to schedule an appointment. That's when I learned Jessica was no longer there. They offered to send my contact information on ahead, a promise I put into the Publishers Clearing House sweepstakes zone of likeliness.

Not long after that, my friends who'd also started seeing Jessica asked me if I knew where she'd gone. Alas, I did not. Nor did I have the note. But then I recalled that I'd emailed Jessica at one point. So I searched my sent mail folder and voila! There she was.

There was just one problem. She wasn't working at a salon anymore, but she could come to the house. All of the sudden, this sounded like the best thing in the world to me. Getting a parent chore done without having to leave home? I asked if I could invite her other former clients along and turn the thing into a party. Jessica said yes. Meg and Holly were in, and last night, everyone climbed into the attic and took turns sitting in my swiveling desk chair as Jessica snipped and dyed and blow-dried everyone, including the girl who lives across the street (her parents had a babysitting emergency).

I baked some brie and served it with fruit and wine, and took turns catching up with Meg, whom I haven't seen in years except on Facebook, and with Holly, whom I get to see every week. Maybe it was the wine or the pink-tinged sunset air, but before it ended, we started feeling festive enough to put on an impromptu concert. Lucy sang, Alice jammed on her fiddle, I played the mandolin and Adam played the guitar and the girl from across the street was our backup dancer.

I know we can say that things like hair don't matter, and that we live in a world that puts too much stock in appearance. And of course in the grand scheme, hair doesn't matter a bit. Nothing does. We're born, we live, we die ... if we're lucky, with somewhat more hair than we came into the world with.

But I am less and less about grand schemes and more the unexpected ones. We cross paths with people and all too often, just keep moving and the strands that bind us fall away. Jessica took the time to write a kind note about my girls. And so I returned the effort to make sure I could stay in touch with her, and that my friends could, as well, and something that began as a chore turned into an evening of food and friendship and beauty and love.

This morning, as I swept up the snipped hair that escaped last night's cleaning attempts, I looked at those shorn ends as time. The growth of a month or two. Out of the total span of our lives, not much at all. But the moment it was cut was one where paths from my life as a child and my life as a mom braided themselves together, where they will sit in my memory for the duration. And so a haircut, as unimportant as anything, is at the same time everything that matters most.