A Show at Bungalow 21


Our hair means everything to us, whether we care to admit it or not.

2020 did not start out well for mine.  When I walked into my salon in early January for my usual color session, I discovered that my hairdresser of the past twelve years had suddenly moved and didn’t tell me.  I was  horrified.  I mean, this was the person who had seen my hair go from being ultra-short, to long, or I should say, longer.  My hair can’t seem to get past my shoulder blades.  She was the one who pointed out to me that my entire crown had gone completely white in the span of three months one year.  She held my hand when tons of it fell out for some reason and helped me grow it back again.  She had made it silky smooth and, as she called it, “spank me” hair.  Each time I walked out of the salon, she had made me feel pretty.  But now she was gone.

Another hairdresser temporarily filled in to put in a few highlights and lowlights, but basically I was on my own, set adrift on the sea of “what do I do now?”.  It sounds trivial and silly to be so involved with your hair, but it’s one of the very few luxuries I allow myself.  I like to keep things simple.

When everything shut down due to Covid-19, my hair needed to be done again, but it was unimportant as the health and safety of the world became the top priority.  I thought at the time, as did a lot of people, that it was going to be a couple of months, maybe, and then everything would be okay again.  Business as usual.  I’d find my new forever hairdresser and get my roots touched up and life would be fine.  But things didn’t turn out like that.  Besides, with so many people getting horribly ill, losing jobs and suffering, my hair did not matter.  At all.

Like everyone who could do so, I hid out like a hermit in my house, only venturing out once or twice a week for food, period, and had other necessities delivered by Amazon.  As the weeks went by and things didn’t get any better, but worse, so did my hair, but I didn’t really care.  I wasn’t doing anything where it mattered.  I worked in my yard, cleaned my house endlessly and watched the news, hoping every day for something good to happen.  And my hair grew.

If you have colored your hair for a number of years, you don’t know what’s really going on underneath.  Not really.  You can guess what your natural hair looks like based on your roots, but you may not be seeing the entire story.  As my hair grew, I could see how interesting it had become, with patches and streaks of pure silver and white, mostly at the crown.  I thought, well, maybe with Covid, this is the time to let it grow, become a silver sister, streamline my life even more and stop coloring.  I spent time looking at other women who had done this on Instagram and Pinterest, those brave souls who ditched the dye and went natural, allowing their grey to shine.  Some days I thought, yes!  This is what I want to do.  Then other days I’d look at it and think, no.  It’s not good.  This is not pretty silver, it’s patchy and irregular silver and mousy brown and it’s not cool enough.  Not like the women with the beautiful silver.  But I didn’t have a choice.  There was nowhere to go to have it done, anyway.  I officially had Pandemic Grey.

As we drifted into June and word came out that salons would begin opening again, I thought I’d try to find my new forever hair guru, or at least someone who could give me a good cut.  But I didn’t even know where to start.  So, like everyone else, I turned to the Internet.  I Googled hair salons in my city and up popped a salon that caught my eye.  I stalked its Instagram and looked at the hair and thought, wow, this place looks like something I’ve never seen before.  Instinctually I knew this was where I wanted to go.  So I booked an appointment with the owner, Parris.

After basically six months of no color or cut (except for those few highlights and lowlights in January that had washed out) I looked pretty bad.  I am willing to admit that I looked like a mess.  I walked into Bungalow 21 Salon with my mask on, embarrassed by my Pandemic Grey.  Parris greeted me and escorted me to her suite.  She has her own room, as does everyone who works there.  I’d never see anything like it.  The salon is quiet and peaceful.  You aren’t confronted by a room filled with chairs and hairstylists coloring, cutting, blow drying and gossiping.  Instead it has suites, separate rooms where you are alone with your stylist.  Which, really, makes perfect sense and is the coolest thing ever.

Parris looked at my hair.  I told her “I just want everyone to play together.  The silver, blonde and brown.  Can’t they all just get along?”  She said “Yes”, and proceeded to weave and allowed my hair to be what it is, but just a little better.  Then she cut it a little and when I walked out of that salon, I felt like I was pretty again.  She made it look natural, relaxed and as it should be.  It was icy blonde mixed with silver and a little mousy brown.  I was happy.

The second time I saw Parris she told me she had looked at my website and that said that she liked my photographs.  Her grandmother had been a photographer and her work is hung in the salon.  When she asked me if I’d like to show my work there, I was beyond flattered.  I said sure, which isn’t easy for me to do.

I’ve had people ask me for years if I’d have a show, or if I’d sell prints and even though I have been included in a couple of shows in the past, it’s never been my goal.  I like creating images, but I don’t particularly like promoting myself.  I create for myself, I do what pleases me for me, not to try to be anything or anyone in particular.  I simply love to create.  But sometimes when I look at the body of work I’ve produced over the past eleven years, I think I’d like to have people see it beyond The Gravel Ghost.  Just because…  Some of the work I’m most proud of is of the Twenty Mule Team.  And I love the vibe of Bungalow 21.  It really is the coolest salon and most interesting concept for a business I’ve ever seen.

I now have a show of a few of my favorite images at Bungalow 21 Salon, in Calabasas. If you’re in the area, please stop by, have a cappuccino in their great cafe and see my work in person!

Bungalow 21

5777 Las Virgenes Road

Calabasas, California



7 thoughts

  1. That was a fine and humorous post–a true view of the reality of our hair holding on for the long haul. I’ve not gotten brave enough to go in. I’m a lot older than you and don’t care about the grey and white (I used to be a redhead when dying it…a very long time ago). But the dryness and length-ugh!
    Not so great that your hair stylist left without a call. But oyu sound happy with the new one. By the way, how did she help your hair loss? I am frustrated with mine but there may be less hope for me at 70….so it goes– literally…
    And that is wonderful news about your show. Good things happening! I’m rooting for you from OR.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Cynthia. Both the hair loss and sudden whitening had to do with enormous stress. It really is true that stress does things to your body. I was going through a horrible situation that needed to be dealt with and the result was big hair loss. The color never returned. Months after the stress was gone, the hair cane back on it own. But she had me taking biotin and I had a regimen of extremely gentle hair care to maintain what was left until the new hair came back.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Merilee, such an ordeal. How trying to lose your hair and its color amid the tough stress. I’m glad for you that it came back in! The color can be altered as you know, if you choose. Come to think of it, my own life has been far more stressful the past year or more–but not the worst, either. Our bodies sure do speak to us…I will keep biotin in mind. Meanwhile, take good care of yourself. I admire your creative work.

        Liked by 1 person

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