I recently lost my mojo. Mojo means different things to different people. For some, mojo is sexual, for some, mojo is being present in the now. For me mojo is that inner glow, the one you often see on pregnant ladies. Mojo is that smile inside of you that shows on the outside. It’s that inner spark; that feeling of connection to everything and everyone around you. It’s feeling truly alive. When you’ve lost it, things feel gray and dingy and it’s as if that tinge of hope within has buried itself somewhere and is too busy licking its wounds to present itself.

After days of blah and meh, I wasn’t sure what to do and, damned if it isn’t superficial, I dashed to my black Beetle and raced to the salon. Once there I hobbled up to the counter, my pasty skin stretched into a grimace, with hair that looked like the end of a Q-tip that’s been hanging out in the bottom of my travel case since a European vacation in 2004. I asked for my stylist Nicolette. The receptionist’s pink and tan glow hid what I imagined was her own grimace at my pallid state and said, “Have a seat, she’ll be right with you.” As I looked around the salon I saw smiling faces, heard endless chatter, I saw hot pink highlights with streaks of robin egg blue, I saw people glowing, and not from some radioactive hair gel.

After a few minutes Nicolette came over and greeted me with a steady smile and just like that I breathed a deep sigh of relief. She took me to a seat and stood behind me lifting up piles of my frizzed hair asking what I might want to do with it. You have to understand. When you sit in that stylist chair something comes over you. A need to confess, an urge to spill pent up emotion. Stylists are the unrewarded psychologists of our society. So I said it, “I’ve lost my mojo. I’ve just had surgery and I need something. Anything!” My bloodshot eyes stared back at her through the mirror, made more red by the dark circles underneath them. I felt like a crack addict at an NA meeting, sitting there with my coffee cup shaking in my hand. Nicolette didn’t flinch, her tattoo-muscled arm flexed as she pulled her fingers through the tangled mess of my hair. I gave it up to her at that point and told her that she could take creative license and do whatever she wanted as long as the colors were golden so that my face wouldn’t continue to look like Shamu’s inner belly.

We got to talking about the lengths women will go for something different, to feel better, to regain their mojo. I confessed that as a teenager I used to lie in the sun on top of our black trampoline with tinfoil pasted under my thighs, slathered in baby oil. At that age I thought I could force that inner glow by means of an outer glow when, in reality, I ended up looking like a raw piece of filet mignon marbled with fatty blisters. I shifted in my seat, trying to laugh, as I thought of my dear friend who was just diagnosed with skin cancer. I regaled Nicolette with stories of my love for Sun-In and fresh squeezed lemon juice when money was tight and I couldn’t afford highlights and she whispered that she had once tried Clorox Bleach in an attempt to eke out just a touch more blond.

While the red, honey, cinnamon, and warm browns processed in my hair I shuffled over to get a pedicure. I stood over hundreds of little bottles of nail polish wondering which one might transform my toenails from hardened yellow bits to bright, sunny digits. I chose Pamplona Purple, partly because I’m obsessed with purple, partly because purple is the color of spirituality, and since I had about an ounce of spirituality left within me I felt it couldn’t hurt. I dipped my feet in the tangerine-colored bubbling water, turned on the massage chair, and chatted with the client next to me. While the pedicurist gently buffed away the past three months of a somewhat rough journey the woman next to me talked to her pedicurist about always choosing the same pink polish. I butted in, as I’m sometimes wont to do, and told her she should try something new, something adventuresome. Her eyes lit up when she saw the Pamplona Purple being applied to my toes, she made the leap, and began to glow.

After my pedicure, pink separators stuffed between my toes, I was back in Nicolette’s styling chair where she took a few inches of baggage off the ends of my hair, gave me a set of bangs in a fresh new way, (I haven’t worn bangs since the eighties when I rather brilliantly combined them with a tight perm… ahem) and told me that I was right on schedule for my first-ever spray tan. I have to admit I was a bit leery. I’ve tried “fake” tanning methods before and every single time I’ve ended up looking like an Oompa Loompa.

I walked over to the tanning portion of the salon, my head three pounds lighter, my feet bouncing off the pavement, and was greeted by a gentle woman who told me to remove all my clothing and step into her tent. Normally this type of situation would have sent me running to my car but there’s an intimacy inherent in a salon that puts you at ease, (a good salon at least,) where you don’t mind looking like an aluminum foil Medusa with cushions between your toes baring your all and then some. I stripped down and for the first time in my life I wasn’t self-conscious. My new surgery scars were still scabby and combined with my old scars my belly resembled a chalk-white version of the smiley Wal-Mart logo. But I stood there in all my glory, embracing those new battle wounds, while this kind woman sprayed me with a mixture of coffee and aloe in a shade she called Winter Medium, and then she turned the fan on me, set the timer for five minutes and left me to dry. I stood there naked with my arms held up like a ninja, my legs slightly apart and felt the cold air hit my body and looked into the mirror. There I was, naked, freshly cut, colored, buffed, polished, and brown. I smiled just before my teeth began to chatter.

I left the salon feeling like a new me. I could feel my mojo ricocheting around inside of me like an errant pinball trying to get back on course. And while all of the ladies at the salon did a fabulous job I realized that it wasn’t about my outward appearance after all. It was in the caring for myself, the being fully present with myself for those five hours and in the sisterhood and connection that enveloped me, that I had finally regained my mojo. Though my hair does look smashing.

Contributed by:

Melanie Bates

http://melaniebates.com