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It's what a sista-friend do

Updated: Jun 28, 2021

The first head of hair I ever colored belonged to my dearest of sista-friends, Stephi.

We met shortly after she and her family had moved to Plymouth, Ma from NYC.

I was 14, standing aloof among the cliques of students, all huddled together to fend off the chill, not so subtly emitting a “strangers beware” signal to the public at large.

Nonetheless, a stranger did approach, and asked for me by name.

I recognized her as someone who rode my bus, but we'd never spoken before. I expected her to bum a smoke and turn away, but this girl actually seemed to want to talk to me.

It was such a novel experience, I turned my Walkman off.

On the surface we were as opposite as they come. She was 15, tall, athletically slender and fair skinned, with sharp, gray blue eyes and strawberry blondish hair.

She reminded me of Molly Ringwald’s character from “The Breakfast Club”, all the way down to her sophisticated tweed blazer and ripped jeans.

I, on the other hand, was short,and stocky. Broad in the shoulders, with olive complexion, brown eyes and black hair that hung over my face, like a mask. If the role of Bender, from that same movie, had been a female, I'd have been a dead ringer.

She was new to our school, and didn't want to be there - she was looking for someone to skip school with, and… well, I had a reputation.

That was the first of many days we spent together, and to my delight, we discovered that for all our outward differences, inwardly we were very alike.

We had both endured abusive family relationships, and were struggling to cope with the effects. We had similar taste in music and were both musically inclined.

Most surprising to me was learning that we both felt awkward and unwelcome in most social circles - and what we craved most was a safe person with whom we could really be honest without fear of rejection or ridicule.

We quickly found in each other the comfort of family, and adopted one another - this is where we took on the nickname of : "sista-friends".

We spent many days together, usually in places we didn't belong, and at times doing things that were... less than legal.

Some days we just cut a class or two, but more often we skipped entire days, roaming around Plymouth, or taking the public buses into Boston.

We drank peach flavored New York Seltzers. We pilfered books, taking them to the nearest Dunkies or park to read. We smoked like chimneys, and were a general nuisance.

We would sneak out at night, just to spend hours swinging on closed park swings while we tried to process our thoughts and feelings.

Just before her 16th birthday party she pulled out a box of hair color and asked me to help her..

I was terrified, but she convinced me to do it. She had friends coming into town for her party and it was so important to her that she look just so...

When your sista-friend feels insecure you do whatever you can to build her up! In this case, it was to color her hair, in secret, in her bedroom.

Thankfully her hair came out looking better than I dared to hope. I, however, emerged with streaks of red from my finger tips to my elbows. Her bedroom rug may or may not have been substantially dribbled upon as well. 🤷 😬 🤦

Fast forward thirty-some years and countless cuts and colors later, when Stephi decided to move to Pensacola.

The five years that led up to this moved were some of the most brutal; full with abandonment, betrayal, misunderstandings, abuse and a brush with death.

I met her at the airport that first day. She looked like she felt - dejected, defeated and hopeless.

Over the next couple of weeks we ran the gamut from deep spiritual and emotional conversations, to full blown hilarity - laughing till we nearly wet ourselves.

I jumped at the first chance to get her into my chair! In God's kindnesses, Stephi was to be my very first guest in my new salon suite! She even stepped in as my model when professional photos were being taken for my grand opening.

The changes in her visage, as she started to remember who she was, and the value she held were astonishing.

The fact that I got to be a part in redeeming the beauty of my bestie...

Well, that's just about my favorite part of salon life.

It's just what a sista-friend do - and that last hair color... Not a drop was wasted in my floor 🙌🔥 🤣

If you're a stylist, tell me where you first experienced haircoloring.

Who else has had humble, "kitchen hair" beginnings?

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