Just yesterday I mentioned my hairdresser. Her name is Donka and I first discovered her in 1997 shortly after moving to this city. She worked in a hair salon at the mall, about a 10-minute walk from our home. Donka was the very first hairdresser in my life who knew what to do with my hair. And even after I left work and had no income except the little pension for putting up with hubby’s deafness, I refused to give up my Donka. Donka has seen me through a whole lot of living over the past 15 years…a new business school, lots of certification exams (I always liked my hair to look nice for those, even though they were computerized), a new job, a new house, a new bout of depression, the deaths of both parents and many beloved in-laws, the 8-month illness and death of my brother, my wedding, many trips to Cuba and elsewhere, my book launch, many speaking engagements after the book launch, my own brief but frightening cancer diagnosis – and then celebrating the subsequent good news by dying my hair pink! And so many, many other ordinary moments in between the big stuff, when I just needed to feel better about myself (a daunting task!)
Donka has cut my hair through tears, fears and despair, grief and anxiety attacks, laughter and excitement; she has listened to tales of far-away places, rants about the infuriating people in my life and we’ve swapped chapters in the on-going sagas of in-laws and celebrities and other assorted insane people in our lives. And always, through it all, Donka made me feel beautiful, important and stronger with her words of encouragement and the wisdom of someone who’s also experienced a lot of roller coaster moments in her oft-times difficult life.
Donka always seemed to know exactly what I needed before I even sat in the chair. Not just what my hair needed, she could also read my mood and personality – and especially the sadness that I just couldn’t shake after losing my parents and brother…going to Donka for a haircut was like a one-stop trip to the beauty salon, a masseur and therapist all in one. She always made me laugh, and she always hugged me with wonderful big loving hugs whenever we met in the mall. I love Donka. She’s one of the bright lights in my life.
I last saw her just after we got back from Cuba in April. She told me that the salon was moving to a new location just across the hall. So everytime we walked through that section of the mall I’d look in, but didn’t think anything of it when I never saw her in there. She usually works afternoons and evenings, and we do our shopping in the mornings. It’s not unusual for us to not see each other for weeks at a time.
So today I called, and was stunned to hear that she’s no longer working there. Panic attack!! I was terrified that something terrible had happened to her. But I quickly squelched it, though could feel those ever-ready tears hovering nearby, and asked if Donka had left any forwarding information for her regular clients. I was clearly being snowballed when the young voice on the other end of the telephone said no and hung up.
I tried in vain to search online in case Donka had started a salon of her own somewhere in the city. Not knowing her last name meant it was like looking for a needle in a haystack. Unfortunately one of the haystacks I looked in exploded my laptop and it took me several hours to recover and restore my dearly beloved window to the world!
So I’m in a bit of a messy quandary. My hair is trickling down into my eyes – and I can’t cut it myself because Donka made me solemnly swear 15 years ago that I would never ever cut my own hair unless I found myself stranded on a deserted island without her. So I can’t resort to broken promises yet. That little bald spot on the back on my head is getting more visible because she’s not there to layer it into camouflage-mode. Thank goodness for my Sunday Afternoon hat – and French braids. But I can’t just switch to another hairdresser without making sure that Donka’s not out there somewhere hoping that I’ll find her.
Sigh. I’ll have to bribe some information out of one of Donka’s co-workers. And when I do find her, the first thing I’m going to do, after hugging her with profound gratitude for having found her again, is write down her last name. She’ll be so pleased when she hears I wrote a whole blog about her.
I really hope that this isn’t yet another rug I have to let get tugged out from under my feet, er, my wanton Farrah-Fawcett-wanna-be curls.
Update: I just found out today (Friday) that Donka is now working at a car dealership selling new cars!!! I remember from my last visit that she was really having difficulty dealing with all the chemicals…maybe that’s why she needed to switch careers for now. I’m just glad she’s okay!