Otherwise, I would have been forced to spend 20+ quid on a hair cut at a shop in the high street of Cockfosters. Thanks to aggressive capitalist markets, I instead spent only 12GBP for a trim at the Supercuts in Shopping City at Wood Green.
Actually, that's not true. I spent 15GBP--I gave the hairdresser a 25% tip. Part of my generosity was due to the fact that she took on the challenge that is my head 20 minutes before closing time. Most of my generosity, though, was because she was nice to me, and talked to me while she was working. Well, yes, hairdressers often try and chat with me (ask Catherine about the woman who sometimes cuts hair but mostly just talks in the shop out at Whitehall), but I tend not to engage in small talk. It's often the end of the day--or the beginning of the day--and I'm tired, and not really in the mood to chat. I'm polite and all, but not really talkative. Usually. I don't know what happened yesterday, but I had a real, honest to god conversation sitting in that tippy chair.
We went through all the usual questions--do you ever color your hair, why are you in London, do you have any children--and then got onto the topic of Skype, and how it was saving my marriage. She also uses Skype, but said she gave up using it with her mother, because her mother always cried at the end, and because she was a "big wuzzy", she also ended up in tears. It was easier to say goodbye on the phone than on a webcam. Somehow we moved on from there to a discussion about aging parents, and I admitted that was one of the worst parts of being away for a year, the worry that I might not see my parents again.
She told me that her father had died three years ago or so, and talked about how hard that first year was--hard for her, but also hard because she had to step up when her mother fell to pieces. She told me that it was something for which you tried to prepare, but until it happened, you just didn't quite understand what it was like. The father of a friend had died a bit before hers had, and she tried to be supportive, but it wasn't until her own father died that she realized just how much she didn't understand what her friend had been going through. The first year was the hardest, but then she was able to move on--it got easier with time. Still hard, but better.
I don't know, she was remarkably upbeat about the whole thing. Serious, but also looking out for the points where a positive turn could be taken--didn't I have siblings that could help, wasn't it good that my father had a course of treatment that kept him here this long, etc. It was the first real conversation I've had in weeks, and I don't think I'll ever forget her telling me about her parents, and how they loved each other, right up to the end, even after 45 years of marriage. "My father was a good man," she told me. I could tell she meant it, she was telling the truth, and it was really kind of her to share that moment with me.