Last week’s chemo wasn’t my best ever (more on that in another post) so on that Saturday, I decided to get my hair cut and colored.
A friend recommended a salon in Central Square near MIT. I parked in a metered space close enough to the entrance and, as I was putting quarters in the meter, another car made a U-turn to grab the space behind me. I peered into that car – the driver was in his late 20’s and the passenger was a woman who appeared to be my age.
Our meters were connected and I had just finished sliding a stack of quarters into mine when I saw them quickly drop change in their meter and study the numbers. I was still in my heavy mood, but it is ingrained in me to help.
“Do you need more quarters?” I asked them.
“No, thank you,” the woman said cheerfully. “We have three hours on our meter.”
Obviously, they weren’t from around here. These meters offered two hours max, and besides, putting in three hours worth of quarters would take more time than they had spent outside their car.
I glanced at their meter. “That says 30 minutes,” I said as I slid my extra quarters into their meter. “I have a few extra.”
I wanted to find out who they were, where they were from and why they were here. A piece of me felt like maybe I was a bit too desperate for human connection and that it could easily freak out these nice people if I acted like their new best friend. So I refrained from saying more and we all went on our way.
A few minutes later, we met up again at the hair salon. Laughing about following me, they waved some coupons and asked if Bed, Bath and Beyond was my next stop. The son, a handsome 29-year-old recently out of the military, paced around the waiting area like a restless tiger. He had just arrived in Boston that morning, straight from his vacation in Turkey and ready to start school. His mother flew from California to help him get settled.
After he followed his stylist to another room, his mother proudly told me in a stage whisper, “He is going to Harvard!” Emphasis on “Harvard.”
Her pride moved me to tears; my heart expanded for their joy. I could envision my father-in-law smiling – he always loved the energy of new Harvard students.
As I got my own hair done, I sat next to this young man and could hear both his excitement and his nervousness: Was he going to be too much older than the other students? Was his non-traditional background strong enough to prepare him? I saw a young man full of potential, as well as full of the insecurities that many of us carry. I was in awe that he could articulate them so clearly.
As for me, I came to realize that, after a crappy week, it felt good to have human connection and to feel strong positive emotions. That mother-son team were such a bright spot moving through.
Then I got my hair cut short and colored purple.