The In Between Times
It doesn’t happen often or it wouldn’t be as special, maybe thrice a year during moments of extreme production. I will be halfway through an ordinary day plugging along on the keyboard or in mid art trance and suddenly my funny bone will twitch and take me entirely off my pre-ordained track.
Last week it happened at noon while my eyes were going crosswise over some heavy research and I caught sight of my furrowed brow in the glare of my computer screen. I was somewhere in Santa Monica high above the sea and my body took over and leapt me up from my chair. Posture straightened and shoulders thrown back, I grabbed some white wine from the fridge and poured myself a glass. Looking out over the ocean, I felt compelled to roam with no concern to why I’d stray.
No clock. No list. No obligations. With just my feet on the concrete and the sun on my face in this in between time — this random crack in my slate, who knew what would spring forth and transpire? No regards to why I yearned or what was next and then …
… a pink eighties sign in unrecognizable cursive came blinking out at me from above a door on Main Street and I ventured in to what appeared to be a regular old hair salon. I heard myself asking the woman at the desk if a chair was free and she nodded yes. Suddenly a man was washing my hair with a foreign voice and I asked him where he was from.
“Down South,” he said.
“Georgia?” I asked.
I told him I loved Mexico and then he started to cut my locks, seemingly one strand at a time, pulling it up with a comb, snipping the ends, and watching it fall into place on my neck. Things started to move in slow motion and I realized I hadn’t even looked around the place.
I noticed that all the people who worked there were dark and almost gypsy-like in their features and flair. A woman at the cutting station in front of me was thriving in a yellow silk coat like a peacock with a short fluff of red hair. She was prancing in front of the mirror looking at herself and winking unapologetically at her own gaze flirtatiously. Next to me was another woman who looked like an old crow, slumped over in her chair with wet matted hair all up in a spiny cocktail of black dye as an attentive neophyte teen applied inky strokes with a brush to her graying eyebrows. As the gentle man blew dry my hair I started to wonder if I had fallen down a rabbit hole. Everyone was dark and bold and I felt small and pale.
As he finished my curls with a swish of his brush and accepted my credit card to pay for the bill, he asked all the ladies in the salon to stand up and look. The crow-like crone told me I had the eyes of an innocent. The cardinal looking-glass dynamo told me I could bounce home now. The woman who had first sent me to my chair said I couldn’t make a return appointment because they didn’t plan that far in advance. The man who cut my hair asked me for a hug goodbye and whispered in my ear.
“You are a real live angel.”
A half an hour later I was home, sitting in front of my computer screen with new hair, a little stunned and unsure of where I had just been and whom I’d met there.
It’s the in between times like these that make me still believe in magic, like a little girl avoiding the lines in the sidewalk lest I break my mother’s back. Half in and half out of the world as I know it with a firm resolve not to groan under its weight.