The Color Purple

It all began innocently enough when I asked Shoko to introduce me to her hairdresser. I’d wanted just to lighten my dirty blond/brown hair, wanted to refresh it with just enough low- and highlights that it would blend in with, and soften some of the (um) greyness.

A couple of days ago, Shoko and I met at the hair salon so that she could explain to her Japanese stylist Miyuki-san what it was that I wanted. And yesterday afternoon I returned for my appointment, Shoko showing up shortly after my hair started undergoing treatment.

Here’s what happened: I became a flaming blond bombshell – operative word being BOMB. My hair looked completely dyed, fake and washed out. In fact, when I pulled my hair back into a pony tail, my complexion and hair blended in with the wall behind me, a wall that was painted a light, yellowy, creamy color. What a disaster. Ok, so it wasn’t exactly purple – but it might as well have been, shockingly tinted as it was in spots (even Shoko noticed it) with little streaks of orange!

Maybe the whole undertaking went awry because my request got lost in translation, or because I neglected to specify how my previous hair stylists managed to achieve the effect that they did, creating a more subtle blending of colors.

Are you one of my angels?

Where were my angels when I needed them?

I was already dressed, had paid and was ready to leave when Shoko said that Miyuki would be happy to try and fix it if I was so unhappy. I eventually relented, realizing that any hair-repair would hopefully be an improvement on this unsightly do. So I sat down, with not the slightest clue of what lay ahead, but praying that her work would magically revert my head’s appearance back to its starting point.

Which is when I started asking myself silently: where are you, my angels? But even then, I realized that one angel had, indeed, visited me earlier that morning. She’d manifested in (through) the person of Maya, the yogini who led the Kundalini class at Villa Gaia.

What first struck me about Maya when we met was her über-long hair. You couldn’t miss it: She wore it in a braid that hung down to her waist. It glowed healthily, a mixture of dirty brown, blond and gray – acutely reminding me of my own hair (though I wear mine at shoulder-length).

Of course my angel was right there, pointing me straight towards Maya’s hair! I heard my angel, but so faintly (it was a yoga class after all) that her message remained unheard.

When Miyuki-san was done with the fix-up, and after my hair was re-washed and partly dried, I took a look in the mirror and sighed to myself. Now you’ve gone and done it. My hair was everywhere a solid patch of brown; no blending, no blonding, no modulation, nothing natural.

I wagged a self-flagellating finger at myself: Just wait till that zebra streak sneaks up on your front hairline and along your part one fine day, what will you think then?

Shortly before five o’clock this morning, my feistier, in-your-face angel showed up to speak the truth. (I’m sure she meant to show up before my hair appointment yesterday, but she must have been delayed by traffic in midtown Ubud.) Like a stealth bomber, she snuck into my room under cover of night, slipped under the sheet, poked me in the arm, waking me up with a start. What now, I asked her.

She looked at me with a glint in her eyes, sat back and asked with utter seriousness: What on earth were you thinking going to get your hair done by a Japanese hair dresser…. whose clients (yes, even here in Ubud) are primarily Japanese? Don’t all Japanese women have straight black hair?! That’s like going to a barber for a perm…

Right then. Now I’ve got a head full of godawful unnatural-looking brown hair.

One viable option. Plastic bags are plentiful in Ubud..

And it’s nobody’s fault except my own, as my tardy angel rightly pointed out to me.

Out of the hair-fiasco-fog, it was as if I was hearing Linda’s voice reminding me: You are not your body… You are not your money… You are not your possessions… (to which I tried to add with a glimmer of faith:) You are not your hair.

So now what are my options? Maybe I need to find a hairdresser in an ex-pat enclave who has experience with serious hair-repair. Or I need to wear a hat or headscarf ALL the time.

The ubiquitous Ubudian head towel.. another hide-the-hair option.

Then again, I’m thinking it might be the perfect time to give Vipassana meditation another try. Yes, I think I’ll look into that.. maybe a 90- or 140-day retreat this time. After all, at Vipassana, nobody is supposed to look at you, speak with you, or notice that your hair is maybe as close to purple as (you hope) it will ever be.

Morning practice of gratitude takes over: Distress over hair crisis thankfully averted. (After all, I have a full head of hair, so what do I have to complain about?) This too shall pass…

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