Some women get their hair cut and colored every six weeks like clockwork. My grandmother and great-grandmother filled the dryer chairs lining the wall of their beauty shop every Friday, and the ladies of Raleigh always had their hair washed and set for the church service on Sunday.
It’s been years since Taylor saw her own reflection in the mirror, but her outfits are usually cuter than mine, and her hair always looks great. God blessed my sister with gorgeous hair, and it’s been thick as deep pile carpet since she had brain surgery six years ago. That’s why my mom always says, “If you ever want to get great hair, just shave it off first.”
I still share a stylist with my sister and my mom. I had an appointment with Debbie tonight, right after Taylor. Debbie’s current location is a shop on the second floor of a small complex of boutique shops in a historic part of town. It has no elevator, and the concrete stairs go straight up, like the scary attic ladder at my childhood home.
A thunderstorm arrived just as Debbie snipped the last stray hairs off the top of my head. As we stood by the large windows up front and watched the world fall down outside, Debbie told me how my dad came to Taylor’s appointment with my mom in the afternoon. After my parents helped Taylor out of the car, Dad put my sister on his back and carried her up the stairs.
I didn’t see it happen, but I imagined it as angry rain fell from the black sky and pelted the windows. The image of my near-16-year-old sister draped over my father’s shoulders, her eyes unmoving, her hair perfect if a little long, washed over me, a melancholy beauty. And just before I came to, it occurred to me that the last time Taylor got a haircut – just six weeks ago – she climbed those stairs.