A lady came into the salon I was in today.
Maybe mid-seventies. Short blonde hair, wearing a beautiful linen dress.
She looked tired. Her feet seemed heavy as she walked over to the nail station. Her eyes were red. Her mascara had smudged a little. As if she had just been crying.
As she lowered herself into the chair, eyes closed, the salon ladies started to fuss around her. They brought tea. A specific wheel of nail colour.
One of them got to work with a shoulder massage. Another carefully leaned over and started threading her eyebrows. All of this occurred without a single word uttered. Because they know her. She comes here all the time. She has a routine.
As I watched them, I thought about my mum. I thought about her routines, her rituals. I thought about my own.
I thought about the things we do to hold ourselves, and the form that these things take. Not just in times of crisis, but every day. Things we do that say ‘there you are now. You’re OK.’
Six days after Charlie was born, my body obliterated, I insisted my husband drive me 100 metres to the local mall (I couldn’t walk properly 😝) so I could get a manicure. I remember looking at my nails and thinking ‘OK. You can do this’. Everything was a mess – but my nails looked good. And that made me feel good.
When my parents separated suddenly, I flew home to be with my mum. She left the house shortly after I arrived because she ‘had to go for a walk with Kate’. Their weekly walk. Rain or shine. Devastated or not. Her routine. Her way of holding herself.
As I pondered this, I realised that the woman in the salon had started to relax, and chat a little, as the ladies did their thing. She picked a colour, sipped her tea, and flipped through a magazine.
And then, when they were done, she stood and gathered her things. She seemed taller than before, a little lighter on her feet, and I realised – as she walked passed, that she was probably ten years younger than I had originally thought. About the same age as my mum.
She grabbed her bag, thanked the ladies, and made her way to the door.
As she turned, she smiled a little. And I thought, there you are now, you’re OK. (and then I messaged my mum ❤️)