Extraordinary stories from everyday life on the edge of the world

Stories

the best thing about us is the people we know.
 

Daelyn // Bloomington, Il.

I went to get my hair cut last week, courtesy of the lovely Leann, as an unnecessary thank-you gift for watching Ajani.

My appointment was with Daelyn, on the recommendation of Jamie, who goes to church with her.

In case it hasn't become abundantly clear, it's all about who you know.

It's been a long time since I got my hair cut...even longer since anyone but Tassia (my friend and favorite hair stylist in all the world) worked on it. I was nervous. You know how it is, especially if you have short hair.

Daelyn was lovely and cordial and pleasantly detached--she didn't launch into the white noise of small talk. She did ask me what brought me to Illinois, and of course there was that whole thing to explain.

I asked her how she got started cutting hair, and she said she always wanted to do it, ever since she was a little kid. Which is always cool to me to hear, when somebody knows from childhood what they want to do. I assumed until college that everyone was like that, born with a mission in mind. But haircutting seems like an exotic and interesting thing to have in mind, as a child. It's not "dancer" or "astronaut" or even "artist." It's specific, and ground-level.

Daelyn used to practice cutting hair on her Barbies; she even had one of those head-and-shoulders Barbie things (which I remember seeing commercials for, and thinking "Why would anyone want that, when you can't make up stories with it?") She would ask for boxes of hair color for her birthday, and practice on friends. She was always the last one to get ready for a high school dance, because she was doing everyone's hair and makeup for them.

But her parents wouldn't let her go to cosmetology school. It wasn't a real job, in their eyes. They wanted her to go to college. So she did; she enrolled at ISU and started going after a business degree. Until midway through her second year, friends kept pestering her that they knew she wasn't into what she was doing, and they knew how much she loved doing hair.

So she transferred to Heartland, where she could get her associate's with the credits she already had, and started cosmetology school.

Her parents cut her off. No joke. They stopped helping her with rent. They wouldn't even talk to her about her job.

She doesn't speak bitterly about them, and I'm not trying to paint them as bad people. In their eyes, styling hair was a low-class gig. They didn't realize, it seems, how much ridiculous money you can make off it. (They still don't, says Daelyn; they really never ask her about work, even though they've accepted it by now.)

I ask her if it's hard, not being supported by them in something that she doesn't just do for a job, but really loves. She says yes, it's hard, but she's accepted it, and she's grateful that they have at least accepted it as her choice. I ask if it feels a little crazy, getting treated like a black sheep, when all she's doing is going to work every day, doing something that she loves, and making really good money at it. She allows that it's weird.

But she does love it. And she knows she's supposed to be doing it. When she was still in cosmetology school, she got a call from a salon saying they'd received her resume and were really interested in having her work for them. She was confused; she hadn't sent them a resume, and she thought they must have got the wrong number. But they read off the information and it was indeed her. Daelyn hadn't even finished all her education yet; the lady on the phone said "Why don't you just come down and meet with us, anyway?" Basically, she was strong-armed by fate (or something) into the job that she's had ever since.

She loves working at this salon, Fox and Hounds in Bloomington. She feels like they support her not just in her work, but in why she does it. "I want people to feel that they have worth, and value" she says. Hair is great because it's the first thing you notice about yourself; if you're feeling ready for change, the quickest way to feel a sense of change is to change your hair.

When she was in high school, her friend's mom was dying of cancer, and her friend came to live with Daelyn's family. She became Daelyn's practice model; so many bad haircuts and loud dye jobs, Daelyn laughs. But her friend loved it; it was a way to get her mind off the pain she was going through, and it made her feel beautiful and worthy.

Not every story has a moral. But I'm going to assert that this one does. And here it is:

Whatever crazy thing you're doing might not be as irresponsible, childish, or wrong as people are telling you it is.

Okay, sure...it might be all those things. Or maybe just the way you're doing it.

Or maybe it's all totally legit, even heroic, and people are just scared for you because what you're doing means something specific and scary. Have compassion on them, but not to the point of not being a hero. Those people need you to scare them, though they probably don't know it, just as much as other people need you to cut their hair the way only you can.

Speaking of which...

If you have short hair, you understand how important the front of it is. How one little piece, misdirected, can take you from Audrey Hepburn in Love in the Afternoon to Tatum O'Neal in Paper Moon to Courtney Cox in early seasons of Friends.

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I showed Daelyn the picture I always give to Tassia, but I set my expectations low. After all, it was my first time going to her...she can't be expected to know the idiosyncrasies of my hair and all its attendant cowlicks.

If you have short hair, you'll understand the elation that comes from finding that someone has managed to cut in such a way that all the renegade pieces can't help but fall just as you mean them to, even without the aid of styling products.

The lady has something you can't teach. Go to her, and be blessed.

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Visit Daelyn at Fox & Hounds Day Spa.