There are many things that one lets go of to live in paradise. Among them is one that women everywhere understand as a true sacrifice: the perfect hairdresser. I know the politically correct term is “stylist,” but it just doesn’t fit the mood of the sentence or the sentiment of the moment. “Hairdresser” is a venerable title with generational continuity--and my particular hairdresser and I go way back. Lauren came to me twenty years ago when I was a therapist. “I’m turning forty next year,” she said. “You have a year to fix me.” Not long after, I became her client too. The truth is that over the last two decades neither of us has been “fixed,” but both of us have gained immeasurable ground. And on that terrain, an abiding friendship stands, deeply-rooted and flowering.

So I wasn’t just leaving my hairdresser, I was leaving someone who knew me intimately from roots to dreams. And thus I dreaded the first (and perhaps all subsequent) island haircuts. It was the island itself that insisted I get this initiation over with. My hair is thick, coarse and naturally wavy for which I am of course, thickly and naturally grateful. However, the island and my locks have a troubled relationship. The humid winds huff and puff and blow my air up. In an attempt to preserve my farewell cut, I even stopped blow-drying as that only added to its inflatable state. This attempt to tame worked for a day or two and then Puff the Magic Hairdo returned.

I turned to my housemates for referrals, but both of them had suffered at the hands of the nearby “Cut and Cover.” However within a few weeks, a hairdresser appeared in Linda’s yoga class. How often do business cards make you smile? The name on it  was, “Shear Organics.” For many years, Lauren had worked at a salon called, “Shear Talent.” The accompanying picture was a large white flower that looked like an orchid. Lauren’s last shop, before opening her own, was called, “White Orchid.” The hairdresser’s name was “Marianne.” When I first met Lauren and until she turned forty-nine, her name was “Mary Jane.” Smile.

And so I went to Marianne’s house for my first island cut. Sitting in her upstairs bedroom shop, I felt forever and a day away from the upscale downtown Sacramento salon to which I was accustomed. The face in the mirror was not that of my dear friend. Marianne couldn’t access the backlog of my kids’ lives, my health or my inner world. I didn’t feel free to tell her about my unsettling dream of the night before. Yet, looking out over the swaying palm trees and cloud-happy sky, my hair seemed to feel at home in her experienced hands and I imagined that eventually, I would feel at home there too.

I came away with a chic, shorter hairstyle that fits the island clime and reflects the new style of life I’m creating here.  I still miss seeing Lauren and taking our conversation deeper over dinner at Cafe Bernardo's. I still miss my sexier, Mainland tresses. But something new is rumbling. Let’s call it a “wild hare” to take my cut and color to a place it’s never dared to go. No one here knows me well enough to be shocked. But shocking myself seems to be Mother Maui's way with me.

A Hui Hou,

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