Isn’t it funny how deep conversations can get at your hair or nail salon, ladies? It’s always been an interesting concept to me- the whole “tell a stranger your whole life story” thing- and never is that idea more prevalent for women than at their salons. This concept applies to taxi drivers and bartenders too- they are secret keepers, information gatherers and intuitives. Perhaps it’s the feeling of ease and comfort you enter in these zones- a salon, a taxi, a bar. You spill ALL the beans, and leave feeling refreshed. “Therapist” should be included in these people’s job titles, don’t you think?
Anyways, a couple days before I left for Peru, I was in Redding getting my hair done for the last time before entering full on Amazonian Nomad-ness and had what was an amazing human connection and full on therapy session. It was a much needed boost for my soul before leaving home again, and it’s lingered with me weeks after my departure.
Spending time at home helped me in many ways, particularly in the gratitude and self-awareness departments. I can see where the Redding road of influence started, where I veered off and how I got to where I am today, and the four hours I spent with this woman helped me make sense of that.
I had never met this hairdresser before and I was quickly put at ease by her humor and welcoming demeanor. She’s 38 years old, a Mother, a Wife and an extremely hard worker (probably too much of a hard worker). Within minutes we were talking about all our deepest darkest fears, secrets and passions. For me, as you know, that all revolved around travel. For her, it revolved around finding herself amidst a life that’s become revolved around her family and less about her- a stage of life that it seems all women go through. We give and give and give and lose ourselves. I looked at her and saw what my future self may say, think and feel. I looked at her and realized how lucky I am to be addressing similar issues at an earlier stage of life without the demands of a family. In a way, our fears and passions complemented each other. In a way we were mirrors for each other, while revealing what lies on “the other side of the fence.”
“Sometimes I think I know exactly what I’m doing, where I’m going and why, and other times I feel like I’m just floating around the world aimlessly with a purpose I can’t always articulate.” I opened the flood gates. “I feel guilty for being almost thirty and so far from settling down now that I’m single again. I want kids and to be married, I do, but right now this is what I have to do. I don’t want to have regrets later in life and feel unsettled in my settling.”
She smiled so big, laughed a little and widened her eyes looking at me through the mirror as she kept on highlighting away.
“Do you realize how special you are, Heather? Do you understand how f**king rare it is for someone to do what you’re doing? How many people wish they could do what you’re doing but can’t? To go out and travel the world, most of the time solo, and not stop in the face of so many challenges? You’re a bad ass.”
Then she said my favorite line of the entire MONTH: “Redding girls don’t do that shit.”
She was right. No offense to people of my hometown, I adore you, I do, but the fact is: Redding girls do NOT do this “shit.” Most of the people I graduated with are married with kids by now with white picket fences, early bedtimes and school drop offs in the morning. Most of them look happy, too, and sometimes I feel envious of their marital bliss. Sometimes I feel like I’m putting off settling down for my own selfish goals. Then conversations like this happen and I am reassured. I’m doing something different than the other people I grew up with and I should be proud of that.
I’m not a young impressionable girl who’s afraid of being different…anymore.
It’s a harsh day in reality when you look your hometown square in the face and realize it’s not the one for you. Probably one of the most important breakups of a lifetime, right? Mine happened with Redding nearly 10 years ago, and I’ve never been the same since.
I remember packing up my little 2004 Mitsubishi Lancer to the roof and waving goodbye to my family in tears as I set off down i5 for the Big Bad City of Sacramento. I wasn’t going far…yet…but I was GOING, and at the time that’s all that mattered.
Fast forward to today, and I”ve just left in grandiose again- breaking up with not only my hometown, but my entire home country, it seems, and taking to the road (again). Call me crazy, but I like it better out there in the Big Bad World. Call me selfish for not settling down and giving my parents grandchildren (yet). I don’t care, because I know that I’m venturing out and doing what other’s feel is wildly impossible and that makes me feel empowered- and if I can make any single other person feel empowered, then my life will be complete.
So the message here is this: Don’t be afraid to go against the grain, to be different, to be called “The Black Sheep” of your family. Do not be afraid to do what other people consider “crazy” if it’s what your heart truly wants. Do not succumb to what society tells you to do without actively considering your options and deepest desires.
DO follow your passions. DO reassure yourself that there is plenty of time for everything you want to do in life- travel, family, career- you really CAN have it all and you need only REACH for it.