Another lifetime ago, I used to get my hair colored and cut at a coveted salon on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. The place itself was on the top floor of a trendy boutique department store which meant that getting my hair done also coincided with me doing some emotionally necessary shopping.
My stylist looked like a cuter version of Alec Baldwin and was gay which did not stop me from having a massive crush on him. “It’s never going to happen,” my best friend told me once when I squealed and told her I was meeting him at the Four Seasons lobby for a drink. We were past the client/stylist relationship. We were family friends. My parents went out with him socially. I think they met for dinner when they were all in Miami one winter.
I sat in his chair which might as well have been a therapist’s couch and we bared our souls over our respective relationships, pet care, our favorite art films, and shopping. That chair, similarly to my yoga mat, had seen me through the best of times and the absolute worst. My stylist knew every squeamish detail of my suburban life and he primped and balayage and we stared at each other in the mirror and sighed. He was a recovering alcoholic and referenced his meetings often. When he did he put his hand on his heart and said, “Honey, we could all use a little meeting in our lives.” I alternated between looking at him and my own reflection. Then he said something which I never forgot. I can’t remember what phase of my life I was in at that point. I was getting my hair done so it must have been a time when I was still in denial about money and matching my lifestyle to affordability. I would guess I was halfway out of my first marriage and living out some post-adolescent splurge which involved other men and lots of yoga. Or it might have been when I was already out of my first marriage and well into owning my own business, (which I would leave behind years later) owning my own home (which I would short sale years later) and having a lot of fun teaching and practicing intricate yoga poses which was still happening to the point of obsession.
“The last relationship in recovery that you reconcile,” he told me as he brushed the cold purplish goop on my head, “is your relationship with money.”
I myself was not in recovery but I had this sense when he said that at some point this reconciliation he spoke about would have to happen for me. That at some point money would want me to get to know it’s not so fun side. It wasn’t then. I was still too comfortable to make massive change. I was still justifying ripping tags off purchases and hiding them in my closet. I was ok with letting other people take care of the numbers.
It’s only today as I sit midday in my apartment in a city that I still consider unnervingly new that I understand the weight of what he meant. If I had spent less time in my stylist chair and more time taking care of my life in other ways, then I would not be sitting here thinking about how I allowed myself to squander what I had earned. I was born with a famous knack for choosing partners and husbands and parents who took great care of me and I spent a lot of time not involving myself in the fiscal realm of my life. I was not the girl you handed the check to figure out the tax. I was not the one who kept receipts. I was not the one who could tell you what the milk costs or what the price of gas was in my town. I was the creative. Whimsical. Good at other things. For a girl who prided herself most of her adult life on waking up and paying attention I am facing what I think is probably my darkest hour. Not dark bad, but dark as in never having had to shine light in that direction until now with no seat of the teacher to hide behind and no rich husband to pay the credit card bills. I have to look at what I stuffed deep into the corners of my life, unattending, and at least start to do some folding. I had opportunities. Lord, knows I have. But, the light was always so much nicer over there.
I hear you life coaches: Money is energy. Purpose and Paycheck. Know your Worth. Know your Why (and by the way, thank you for calling me gorgeous). Turning over the proverbial new leaf involved my most recent decision (and one that I am still convincing myself was a good idea) -signing on to become an affiliate marketer for a company I respect in the hopes that this would be my chance to turn this ship around and start keeping track and building networks and writing lists and doing what business minded people do in their sleep. This for me feels like I am wearing someone else’s outfit that I would never wear. (My mom is my biggest fan though she still isn’t a customer). It’s like mindset deadlifting. My mental muscles don’t seem to want to move this way. I listen to power points and motivational speak from women in red blouses who tell me in a few months they are financially free and the boss of their own lives. I feel like I am looking into a storefront window but I cannot figure out how I am supposed to get in. I also think that I have no idea how to make a power point presentation.
I have adopted a new mantra “I will figure it out.” Which when I do, when I manage to sit there and not ask my husband to help and refrain from calling my old graphic designer who just had a baby who was the queen of figuring shit out (and is quietly my hero right now); and I finagle around with my own files and avoid shoe shopping and start planning over dreaming, I have a mini celebration. Yay, me. The coaches online tell me I only have to believe.
I have recently succumbed to box coloring my hair which I see as both a contribution to my family’s lifetsyle budget and as a weird kind of DIY project. (I can tell you the “cherry pie” red is not going to happen if you are dark brunette.) I have accepted a part time managerial job at a yoga studio. (Past students, you can close your mouths now). “Don’t you think it’s ironic?” My husband asked when I told him about my job responsibilities, “that you never learned to take care of your own businesses but now you will with someone else’s?”
Call it karma. Call it irony. I just see it as it being about time.