Hair Salons and My Mother’s Voice

It was nice. I wasn’t edgy like I usually am with any new experience. She was warm. A lispy voice with high bouffant hair. It takes a lot of work, she said. But warm and kind. Old-fashioned sort of service. The salon was quiet, just one woman having her roots done. Oh, the woman said, as she reached over for a razor (I just want to do you neck hairs if that’s alright, she said), watch my chunky Yorkie, and then laughed. We talkedĀ about all and nothing as you do in such places. I wanted to smell that well-remembered smell of setting lotion and blown-dried newly shampooed hair that I acquaint with the salons of my youth. Sitting there with Mum as she got her hair ‘done’. Or perched up, myself, on a chair, a too-big gown around my shoulders, feeling weepy. I never liked it. I felt out of control, they would do what Mum wanted not what I wanted. Not that I knew. I wanted to look like someone else. Can I have a Purdy? Or a Farah Fawcett? It never worked and I’d often cry. I wanted to be transformed. And she did. Yesterday. I like it. A bob. Just a straight line. Easy but it feels nice.

She has our mother’s voice – even by email or text or message. It is uncanny. Harsh, sharp, judging. It is better when I see her. Then it is warmer. I feel such love but I sense I am not wanted. Not there, not ever, as it was with her. I try too hard. I try to hard to be loved. Let it be. It is alright. Just as it is. It is.

By Ellen Bell

Artist and writer currently living in Aberystwyth.