Daily Prompt: Stranger

Daily Prompt: Stranger.

I’m trying something a little new today: writing a blurb based on a prompt. This one stuck out to me, because I love random encounters that leave a lasting impression.

I never liked going to Hair Cuttery. I have a few distinct memories of coming home after a hair cut, looking in the mirror at the atrocity framing my face, and wanting to crawl in a hole. When I was a freshman in high school, I had this great idea: I’m gonna get my hair cut like this professionally-styled, blonde model with a petite face and little eyes that scream “Blue Steel.” Because I don’t ever style my hair (ever), I’m a lanky brunette with big eyes, and I don’t think anything can go wrong! Some might say it was sweet how optimistic I was. I say it was just a terrible idea, but there’s not much you can do besides wait once the hairdresser starts snipping.

Once my hair grew out and I managed to crawl out of my figurative hole of shame a number of years later, I heard my youngest sister telling our mom that she wanted to try something edgy with her hair for the end of the school year. Being the great big sister I am (with the knowledge of what can go wrong when you get a little too brave), I offered to be the one to take her.

While I sat and waited, I caught myself watching this child get her hair cut on a booster seat. I assumed she was with the older woman sitting to my left, who was engrossed in a magazine. I noticed she wasn’t dressed like a typical suburban parent, so when I heard her speak to the other child with her, I wasn’t surprised to hear a thick accent. I’m not one to react subtly to things like accents- I full on cheesy smiled. I guess that caught her attention, because she then turned to me and asked, “Are you on holiday?” It took me a few seconds, but I replied, “Oh, sort of. I’m home from school for the week.” She asked a few more questions, to which I explained I was going to a school in central Illinois and that I was studying English Writing. That peaked her interest, “Oh lovely! And what’re you going to do with that? Teach?” “No, I’d like to be a writer.” “Have you been to Ireland?” “Is that where you’re from?” “Yes,” she smiled and nodded at me. “I haven’t, but I’ve heard it’s beautiful. That would be such a great trip to take.” “Ah yes, well all the best writers visit Ireland.”

When the woman at the desk called my last name to pay for my sister, “Conway?” I stood up, but not before I heard the woman next to me say, “Ah, and you’re Irish, are ya not?”

I haven’t seen this woman since I left Hair Cuttery that day, but I still think of her every once in a while. And to be honest, I appreciate her for a few reasons: 1. she was a total stranger and super chatty with me, 2. she took interest in my desire to be a writer, 3. she made me want to visit Ireland. I still haven’t gotten around to it, but when I do, I (not so) secretly hope I’ll bump into her there.

And in case you were wondering, my sister’s new hair turned out fantastic. I guess that’s the perks of being the baby of the family– all of your genes have it figured out after a few prior attempts (see: older sister, myself, and other younger sister).

Even after all this time

Even after all this time / The sun never says to the earth, / ”You owe Me.”
Look what happens / with a love like that, / It lights the Whole Sky.

– Hafiz

The Photo Album

Time flies
faster than you’ll ever realize

how it leaves you behind
spinning around
trying to catch your breath

but you never do
until the moment has passed
and the weather has changed
the people have grown up
the friends have moved away

and as much as you say
you’re stuck in a rut
you want to go far away
you want to be somewhere new,
be someone different

don’t you know
that once the spinning slows
and the dust settles
and you catch your aging breath

you’re going to wish
you had stayed?