An assortment of hair products and styling tools lay scattered across my kitchen counter. The place that, only minutes ago, was home to my small supply of breakfast essentials, was now a pop-up hair salon for my friend who just happened to be a talented stylist and me, her client for the day.
Jesminder lifted the boxes from the chair next to her and passed them over to Cassandra who then relocated them to her side of the room where she was busy using her own area of expertise to plan my outfit.
My eyes darted to the door as I quickly calculated the distance from it to where I was standing. Maybe it wasn’t too late to escape after all? Neither one of them was paying attention so I could easily dip out and make it downstairs, giving me at least a two-minute head start.
With my new plan all mapped out, I inched towards the door but just as I attempted to take my first step, Jesminder spun the chair around, positioning it right in front of her. Comb in hand ready to get this involuntary makeover started.
“Come on,” she tapped the back of the chair like she was my mom and it was Wash Day or something.
So much for that plan.
“This black girl messy bun thing you got going on,” she pointed at my hair, “been up there for way too long now and I cannot take another day of that shit.”
I sucked my teeth and plopped down in the chair. “It has not been that long.”
“Oh, yes it has!” both girls replied, making sure their opinions on my haircare routine were loud and clear.
Exaggerations aside though, it had only been like a week… or two… maybe two and a half— I don’t know but they say I’m the dramatic one of the group…
Jesminder undid my slightly tangled ponytail and went to work on restoring my curls that admittedly weren’t in the best of shape. I thought for sure, I would get an earful about this abuse I had inflicted on my hair but surprisingly, she didn’t say anything — well, she didn’t get a chance to because Cassandra had just finished going through my entire wardrobe, a whole suitcase full of things, and was very vocal about her disappointment in the lack of viable options.
“This can’t be it,” she let out an exasperated sigh as she threw yet another item into her pile of excludables.
“Pleeeaaasee, tell me you have all your cute stuff hidden somewhere,” she searched around the bed, the floor — her attention ultimately landing on the boxes she acquired from Jesminder, “Are they in here? They’re in here, aren’t they?”
They were in there — but those things, the ones she was looking for — were the kinds of things I couldn’t really see myself wearing right now but I knew she wouldn’t want to hear that.
“What’s wrong with those clothes?” I asked as if I didn’t already know.
“Nothing, when you’re home, cleaning or whatever,” she pulled out her phone and started typing something in, “What we need though, are these.”
She walked over to me and placed the phone in my face.
On the screen was a picture of me, outside of this tapas bar, on my birthday last year from my now abandoned Simstagram account. My ‘birthday look’ consisted of a backless romper and a pair of wedges that matched the accent color that flowed from the strings tied behind my neck to the ruffles that stopped just above my thighs. My makeup was something new I had tried just for that occasion and my bracelet — was in the trash back home somewhere.
“This,” she pointed at the phone, “is the Camilla we’re trying to get you back to. Right, Jes?”
“Right,” Jesminder agreed with her co-conspirator, “so just tell her where the clothes are. It ain’t like putting them on is gonna zap you back into that shit you running from.”
Running from? I’m not running from anything. Leaving is not the same as running… it’s different…
I looked away in another direction, one where the accusations weren’t coming from. “I’m not running.”
“Oh you’re definitely running,” Jesminder re-positioned my head back into its original position.
My folded arms tightened a little. “I’m not… I’m just…”
“Denying yourself fun,” Cassandra picked up where I left off, “happiness, sex, a life—”
“Healthy hair—” Jesminder added her two cents.
No… None of those. I’m just— Ugh, they don’t get it.
“Taking a break—,” I finally found the words I was looking for, “so I can…” my voice lowered a notch, “move on from… him…”
Saying those words out loud — I hated it. I hated how they sounded and even more that they were coming out of my mouth. I hated how it felt. That it had been months — multiple months — and I was the one who couldn’t sleep because every time I did, I would dream about what happened and the same way I felt, that sick feeling that had developed in the pit of my stomach when I walked in on what I walked in on was still there, as a constant reminder of everything and I hated that as much as I fucking abhorred him… I kind of didn’t at the same time and more than anything, I hated that my friends who knew every single detail of this story didn’t get that I didn’t want any part of anything that reminded me of my old life.
Jesminder’s comb hit the counter like my response struck a nerve or something. “And you can move on without giving up your whole life. I mean, honestly,” she moved around the chair and stood directly in front of me, “Do you think he’s sitting ‘round moping and shit like you’re doing? Not going out? Not sleeping? Not taking care of himself?”
“Judging by what he posted last night,” Cassandra swiped through her phone, “imma go with no.”
“So fuck him. He’s clearly doing him so you need to be doing you too.”
“And you can start doing you,” Cassandra tapped the boxes once again, “by letting us hook you up tonight.”
I need to be doing me. This wasn’t the first time they’ve said those words to me, in one way or another, but today, they hit a little different. I don’t know if it’s because I’m in my feelings or if it was having someone other than me acknowledge that he seemed to be doing just fine on Simstagram but I’m starting to think… they might have a point… about some of this stuff…
“They’re in there,” I finally confirmed Cassandra’s hunch and granted her access to the secret side of my wardrobe.
“Yeeeeees! I knew it!” she pried open the first box, “You’ll be thanking us later.”