Hey all! I know I said a post about Paris was going to be next, but I’m interrupting the surely-super-long stream of posts about my parents’ visit to do one about my day yesterday. Regularly scheduled posting will recommence soon, but this post is timely due to the date today… but I’ll get to that!
Yesterday, both me and my friend Amanda who is also an assistant didn’t have any classes. We decided to get lunch, and I said I would come to Antibes, the small town about 13 miles southwest of Nice along the coast where she lives. Have I mentioned I love the train system here? It was a 4-euro, 20-minute train ride to get there. Amazing.
To rewind a tad: the past week or so I have been looking into places to get my hair cut. For a long time now I’ve been planning on eventually donating my hair to a company that makes wigs for people who have lost their hair for one reason or another, either Locks of Love or Pantene Beautiful Lengths. There are pros and cons to each, but I’ll let you do your own research if that’s something you’re interested in. I’ve got a class to get to! Later I’ll explain why I chose the company I did.
Okay so I was debating going to a French-speaking place or an English-speaking place to get my hair cut. Going to a French-speaking would be a good experience and would help me practice my French, of course, but with getting a mass amount of hair cut off I was nervous to try to explain what I wanted (and why I was saving my hair) in French. However, the one English-speaking place I found in Nice was more expensive, waaaay more than I’m used to paying… heck, the French-speaking place was more than I wanted to pay too; in the States I’m a $5 cosmetology school/Great Clips kinda girl, but I guess when in France…!
I hadn’t for sure decided where I was going to get my hair cut yet, but then yesterday morning I was getting ready when I remembered that there was an English-speaking salon in Antibes that came highly recommended online. Spur of the moment, I decided to call and make an appointment for that afternoon. Luckily, they had an appointment open!
I went to Antibes and Amanda and I had a good time walking around, seeing the Marché Provençal (open-air covered farmer’s market), eating lunch, and hanging out at her apartment. Then at 3 we went to the Cutting Shop, the hair salon where I made the appointment. I had my first experience in a French salon… they gave me a cotton (regular fabric, not like a fluffy robe) robe to wear and then took a LOOONG time washing, conditioning, and brushing out my hair. Then I moved to the cutting chair, and I was faced with the task of explaining to my hairstylist why I needed to cut my hair in ponytails and keep them. Although the receptionist and some of the stylists spoke English, mine did not speak it very well… after trying to explain in a combination of French and English and him not really getting it, he called the receptionist over to help explain. Amanda, sitting in a chair nearby for moral support, documented the event via photo for me.
Between the two of us, we finally conveyed the general idea to him. Looking at me through eyes full of a mixture of skepticism and wariness, he set about preparing my hair for cutting. Apparently in France they don’t use regular hair bands in salons EVER, so he left and came back with two regular rubber bands. I made VERY VERY clear that I didn’t want my hair to be cut above my shoulders; I even had made a little guide that I brought with me to make sure my hair was going to be long enough to donate, but not shorter than I wanted. I know, I’m a dork. I’ll show a picture of it later.
So my hairstylist divided my hair in two, first putting a band over the hair on my right side, pulling it down to make it low enough to keep my hair from being too short, and then chopping away! He made the first cut and I didn’t freak out or start worrying or anything! Amanda continued taking pictures for me from her seat; he already thought I was weird enough for wanting to keep my hair and send it back to the US. Amanda probably didn’t want to add to it by hovering around taking photos right behind him!
The whole time, the dude didn’t say ANYTHING to me. He probably thought my French wasn’t good enough to understand him and his English wasn’t good enough for him to make himself understood, so it was a very silent haircut. Luckily there was awesome elevator-ish music playing in the background.
The stylist then continued to cut my hair. I was happy with how he was cutting it and putting in some small layers, and the length was good- not too short! The only other thing I was nervous about was whether he was going to cut my bangs and if they would be too short, but they ended up all right. After he finished cutting it he took FOREVER to style it- he blew it completely dry, then went back through piece by piece and used the blowdryer and round brush to smooth and shape it. It was nice, but my hair will not be getting that kind of treatment until/if I ever return to that salon. It has to deal with zero-to-one blowdryings most days.
You know how your hair always feels weird after you get it done at a salon? It’s not even the cut, necessarily, but just another person parting and styling it differently. Because of that I waited till we got back to Amanda’s and I was able to play with my hair a little bit (I always feel bad when I mess with my hair too much at the salon, because I don’t want my stylist to think I don’t like it…) before I let her take a picture.
After my hair was done, I put the two
ponypigtails in the Ziploc bag that I brought along with me and went up front to pay. Both the stylist and receptionist made sure to tell me to take the hair out when I got home to let it dry. Umm duh. Amanda and I then went back to her apartment, which was conveniently just a couple minutes’ walk from the salon in Vieil Antibes. I played around with my hair and decided I LOVED the cut and length; the only thing I was unsure about were my bangs, and I think that was because of how he blow-dried them. They’re better today. Here’s the picture Amanda took:
And I took another on my phone that I sent to some of my family and friends. One of the people I sent the picture too was my friend Jennie, who cut her hair to donate as well just a few days before me. She said she wished we could take a picture of us side-by-side (cons of a long-distance friendship), so I told her I would make one for us!
I think she got 11 inches of hair cut off as well. As promised, here’s a picture of the paper I made to show how much I wanted cut off, as well as my cut-off (fully dried!!) pigtails:
I made three marks: 8 inches (minimum for Beautiful Lengths), 10 inches (minimum for Locks of Love), and 11 inches (because the paper here is long enough that I could). You can see that the longest pieces are 11 inches long! Because I hit the 10-inch requirement, I believe I’m going to go with Locks of Love, although I think I might wait till I go home in May and send it then. I’m not sure how well hair will go through customs… how would I even label it on the form?? And what would I put for the price? “Three years of my life: priceless.” Pretty sure that wouldn’t go over well. So I might just wait.
The reason I chose Locks of Love instead of Beautiful Lengths is because of who the wigs are made for. For Locks of Love, they make wigs for children who have lost their hair, either to chemotherapy, alopecia, or other illnesses. Beautiful Lengths focuses more on women. While I recognize that both are worthy causes, children needing wigs are close to my heart because of the anniversary that is today. Two years ago today, on January 9, 2011, my 7-year-old cousin Alexis passed away from a cancerous brain tumor. She lost some hair a few different times during her two-year struggle, from radiation, chemotherapy, and surgery, and she had a wig that she wore a few times. I hope the hair I donate can help a child like Alexis feel more normal or like other kids during such a difficult time.
This is my absolute favorite picture of me and Alexis, taken the Christmas right before she was diagnosed. My cousin Samantha had gotten me fizzy Jones Soda candies and Alexis and I were enjoying them! Funnily enough my hair is about the same length there as it is now.
If you’d like to read more about Alexis or see more photos of her, I mentioned her here in a post with pictures this summer, or you can read her mom’s old blog about her journey here, but you have to register first.
I know Alexis will be in my thoughts all day today. She would have turned 9 on December 29… it’s hard to believe it’s been two years already. All we can do now is remember the time we had with those we have lost and do what we can to help those who may be going through similar struggles, whatever it is that we can do. For me, yesterday, it was donating some hair.