In 2002 I broke up with the hair salon. I’d gone completely natural the year prior and couldn’t take anymore of the ups and downs, drama and misery that was the standard of quite a few unprofessional black salons I went to as I moved from town to town, pursuing my career. But doing my own hair was drudgery. So after almost a decade of being natural, in 2011, I returned to the salon and began my search for an on-time stylist who would actually like (or at least act like she liked) doing my hair.
The long waits. The double-booking. The general “unprofessionalism.” The cost. I had a lot of reasons to give up on hair salons, specifically black ones, more than 10 years ago.
In the early years of the recession, there was story after story of black salons struggling as more and more black women moved away from the shop, citing every reason I listed above, to do their own hair or go to Dominican stylists who easily could “blow-fry” their scalps for half the cost and time.
And who could blame anyone for leaving or me for leaving? How many Saturdays of my youth did I lose to the creamy crack? Me and a roomful of women, waiting the length of The Godfather II to get a perm, reading old Jet magazines and eating Chinese takeout while sitting in a gossipy, dingy salon that hadn’t been remodeled since the 1980s.
And yet, three years ago, I, the prodigal scalp, returned to the black hair salon.