Today I said goodbye to a friend I have known for 28 years. Michelle is not Kristyn, the friend that I meet for dinner at Matt the Miller's at least once a quarter. And she is not Diane, my golf buddy, who by the way moved to North Carolina and I am not sure how I am going to recover from that loss either.
Michelle is not a work friend, the friends we love talking to at work but do not socialize with outside of work. She is not a mother friend, the mother of one of my daughter's friends that we hang out with at the like activities that the girls share.
Michelle was my hairdresser for the last 28 years, and today was her last day of work. I can still hardly believe it. Her daughter graduates from high school in May and she and her husband John will move to Florida in the fall.
We have known each other and shared so many of life's most significant experiences. I have seen more of her than I have of my own sister, who lives over 1000 miles away in Arizona.
How strange life is, to bring two extremely different people together to share so many common bonds in a hair salon for 28 years, every three weeks, for 28 years.
I met Michelle when we moved to Dublin. Jennifer was 2-years-old, and we had only lived here a few months. We wanted to become a part of the community and support it and Jennifer needed her first real hair trim. I also needed to find a hair stylist. I drove to Dublin's downtown, a wonderfully quaint area with historic-area business and large old tress. I walked along a street, found a hair salon, was paired up with Michelle. She was young and bouncy with blonde shoulder-length hair and fun eyes. Jennifer loved her and so did I.
Michelle was ambitious and soon started her own salon in the downtown's old firehouse. That's when I met her father, who did most of the conversion himself. Jennifer was growing, and so was Dublin. She started preschool and I became a preschool teacher at a preschool almost beside the hair salon. We were settling in to the new community, and Michelle became a constant in our lives.
When Jennifer entered middle school, Michelle was pregnant with Brittany. I knew her father and her mother at this point, and they, in turn, were watching Jennifer grow up through all of the visits to Michelle's. They lived in one of the older sections of Dublin, not far from the shop, and it turned out, two doors now from a new friend of Jennifer's.
Brittany was a beautiful baby and grew into a wonderfully cute little girl with tons of freckles. Now we were watching each other's daughters grow up. I had transitioned to a middle school teacher in Hilliard and Michelle decided to move to another new shop in Dublin. Once again, her father did the renovation work, joined by her husband John, and we, of course, followed Michelle to her new shop.
Jennifer graduated from high school and then to The Ohio State University and a member of The Best Damn Band in the Land. Since preschool, through elementary, on to middle school and high school, and now college, Michelle accompanied Jennifer through every stage of her life and her life in hair.
And the same with me. From a young mother, to a preschool teacher, to a middle school teacher to a high school assistant principal and then to a high school principal, Michelle also traveled through the many hairstyles of my life. Every photo I have had taken in the last 28 years has reflected Michelle's work, as it is with Jennifer.
In all of life's significant events, Michelle has shared in it as a part in our family. On Jennifer's wedding day, Michelle met us early morning in the shop, and completed the hairstyle that is forever immortalized in hundreds of photos. What an emotional day, and Michelle was there with us.
My father's death, her father's death, my mother's death, her family crises and mine were all discussed over cutting, shampooing, drying and styling.
And although she had always told me that when Brittany graduated from high school that she and John would move to Florida I didn't really believe her. But Brittany is indeed a senior, and about 3 weeks ago Michelle let me know that today would be her last.
Somehow it seemed very fitting that I would have my appointment toward the very end of her final day. She gave me my "card" that listed my color numbers and combinations to give to my new stylist, and the large bottle of shampoo and conditioner that I had asked her to order for me, lest I run out of my favorites or the new stylist wouldn't carry them.
She had made arrangements for me to transition to another stylist at her shop, but I just don't have the heart to do it. Walking in there wouldn't be the same without Michelle. And besides, I don't even know this person. How would I have them do something so personal as wash and cut my hair.
Michelle was the best stylist I have ever had because she has been one of the few constants in my life. When I was seeking a stylist 28 years ago I asked my sister had to choose one. Paula is also a hair stylist and I wanted her advice. She told me to find a small shop and always go to the owner because she will work the hardest to please her customers.
And that is exactly what Michelle did. I have so admired her for all these years. She owned her own shop at a young age and stood on her feet serving others for all of these years. Being a hair stylist is really hard work physically, and it has taken its toll on Michelle.
No one deserves to move to Florida to take it easier than Michelle. With her goes a big chunk of my life.
In life, we have all kinds of friends in our lives, and I am lucky to have had Michelle.