Hairstylists shouldn’t admit it, but we have a few favorite clients. Some women just nestle their way straight into my heart while I’m working on their hair, and Melody is no exception.
(Psst. This post is a little longer than usual. If you don’t have time to really read it, wait until you do.)
I’m not sure what you’d notice about Melody if she was standing in line with you at the grocery store. Perhaps you’d notice her awesome, salt-n-pepper pixie hair; or perhaps you’d noticed the funky black streak she gets put in the fringe. Maybe you’d notice her wearing her Birkenstock sandals and wonder, Really? Even though it’s snowing outside? Yes. Really.
But there’s so much depth of character that lies deep inside her heart. And you can’t tell that from a grocery store encounter. Allow me to elaborate.
Once Melody sits in my chair, she sets her bottle of water on my station and begins to take out her large hoop earrings. Even when she does, she always has one little earring left in just one ear. (I love the asymmetry.) She allows me to analyze her hair and completely trusts my instincts as to whether I want to cut it wet or dry that day. I always ask – and she always reassures me – to be sure that she’s content for me to leave her bangs alone. Melody, like myself, prefers to tend to them on her own time.
When Melody talks to me, her tone is as warm as a crackling fire on a wintery night. She’s got the deep, sexy voice I hope to have one day. And with that sexy voice, I can always count on her asking, “So, how’s Charley?”
She does not ask, “How’s your family?” She asks, “How’s Charley?” By name. Every time. Then she’ll ask me, “How’s Donovan?” And again, it’s not, “How’s your brother?” It’s Donovan. And when Melody asks about my dogs, she uses their names, too. And that really means the world to me. There’s something so kind and so thoughtful about the way she pays attention. It’s never my intention to dominate conversation with my clients. I love cultivating a space for them to share what’s on their hearts. Yet somehow every time Melody shows up, she gets me talking. Even more fascinating, she’s really listening!
The last appointment that I had with Melody was all meat, no fluff. We hit the ground running and I’m pretty sure we never once had to comment on the weather and whether or not we’d be expecting more rain.
No, instead she handed me a bag and said, “You might want to put this in your car.”
But before we could address the contents of the bag, darling Melody informed me that due to a recent car accident, she wouldn’t be able to recline at the shampoo chair.
In a matter of minutes, Melody filled in the gaps of my understanding. To sum it up: She’s lucky to be alive. As she recounted the horrors of that accident, I had goosebumps on my arms and tears behind my eyes. My heart choked at the thought of such a tragedy happening. And – might I add? – we had this conversation face to face. I wasn’t watching the clock or standing behind her and listening while I cut her hair. No, no, no. We were not proceeding with any trimming until Melody was finished sharing her story and we could both shake it off.
Except we didn’t proceed.
She wanted me to look in the bag.
Before I even laid eyes on the necklace, Melody began reassuring me that I should feel no pressure to accept this gift. If it wasn’t my style, I didn’t have to keep it. I thought, Oooooh, yeah! She mentioned this necklace the last time that we talked! I was not, however, expecting this wild hunk of solid silver, turquoise and coral.
I wish that I could do justice to the order and manner in which Melody shared the history of this necklace, but it’s kinda blurry to me now. In our conversation, she informed me of several interesting details. Each tidbit made the necklace more and more beautiful to me:
- The necklace was made by Navajo indians and purchased 40 years ago in California.
- When she was in her early 20’s, this necklace was a personal and extravagant indulgence.
- She absolutely loves this necklace, but it’s presently too heavy for her neck.
- This type of necklace is called a Squash Blossom necklace. (There’s a history there, but I’m not in the business of doing essays on Square Piece. Feel free to google Squash Blossom necklaces if you’re intrigued.)
- I had her blessing to remove the pendant if I liked the necklace better that way.
- Though she has family, there’s no one else to whom she’d rather give the necklace; Squash Blossom needed to be matched with the right woman who would love and appreciate it.
- She had a silversmith clean the Squash Blossom necklace before gifting it to me.
- I was welcome to continue polishing more nooks and crannies if I wanted to.
- The silversmith wanted to be sure that she understood that this necklace was quite valuable.
You really wanna give that to your hairdresser?
- And when we hugged goodbye (hairstylists don’t hug everybody goodbye, you know) she reminded me that she loves me and that I’m like family to her. (The feeling’s mutual.)
Do you get the sense of how special this moment was? Do you see how this necklace was not only unique and quirky, but valuable and rare? Do you see how this moment was anticipated long before she finally passed this necklace onto me? And do you realize that she was not merely purging junk that was taking up space in her house, but that she was parting with personal history? …Parting with something that was still special?
And she did it with total joy.
Do you know what she said to me before she left?
“And if you ever need the money, you can sell it.”
Maybe my face didn’t show it, but she floored me. FLOORED. ME. What an unconditional gesture!
You do realize that she could have sold it herself, right? You do realize that times are hard and anyone could use some extra cash, right? Melody wasn’t swayed by the lucrative temptation to sell this rare necklace. When I received Squash Blossom, it felt like she was passing a little piece of her heart on to me.
Later that day, I quietly showed my boss the necklace. While I was still trying to remember its name (I seriously have never heard that term in my life), she laid eyes on it and gasped, “I know exactly what that is! That’s called a Squash Blossom necklace! All the richest women in Texas flaunt their wealth when they wear their Squash Blossom necklaces and a white button down shirt…” (And that explains why I’ve never heard that term in my life.) Then she held the necklace in her hands and marveled at the weight of the silver.
Okay, I don’t know about all that Texas stuff. But here’s what I do know:
I went home that day feeling such a mixture of emotions (which is exciting in itself for someone who has spent a lot of time suppressing feelings in order to function on ‘survival mode’). This private moment that Melody and I had was beginning to gain some momentum in my heart. In fact, my heart felt like the Grinch’s heart at the point where it began to grow. There was contentment. There was peace. There was joy and humility. There was an overwhelming sensation of gratitude.
I took some time to process the kindness of Melody’s gesture. I pulled out my new, 40 year old necklace and googled ‘Squash Blossom,’ wondering about the history of my own. (Could the Navajo indian who crafted this have had any idea of the impact his necklace would have someday?) Somehow, in the midst of those quiet moments, I remembered how terribly my morning had begun. An instance flashed in my mind that, if you read yesterday’s post, could only be described as a Crappy Bologna Sandwich. On the surface, a particular gesture had seemed twinkly, smoochy and thoughtful, like perhaps someone thought that I was special; but the sloppiness with which it was extended revealed the true heart of the matter and actually left me with more insight into just how insignificant I am to some people.
Then suddenly it hit me. It suddenly hit people-pleasing, perfectionist me:
I get it!
I don’t need to matter to everybody!
I don’t neeeeed to matter to E.V.E.R.Y.body.
Because it’s enough that I matter to somebody.
More than enough.
And, now that I think about it, I’ve got quite a few ‘somebodies’!
And those few love me so well.
When my heart is so rich with the love of the few, why run after the affections of the Crappy Bologna Sandwiches?
Why worry for a minute over whether or not I matter a little to everybody when I matter so well to somebody?
Doesn’t my running after the love of the majority really diminish the importance of the love of the few?
Wouldn’t my energy be better spent investing love back into the few instead of chasing more nods of approval?
No. I don’t need to matter to everybody.
In fact, I’d rather prefer for people not to even pretend that I’m important if that’s not true of them.
Because I’m so content right now. So content to be significant on a really small, but precious scale. So thankful for My Few.
To be continued…