When life gets lonely, just change your hairdo

Mara Williams with Jordan and Trey
Mara Williams with Jordan and Trey

When the kids are gone and you’ve cleaned every part of your empty nest for the umpty umpth time, binged every show you care to, snacked yourself into a stupor, loneliness starts to set in.

The battle against depression makes you desperate for something new, a change of pace. You can hear yourself screaming — even though your lips aren’t moving — some excitement, please.

That was me last weekend. Bored out of my mind. I really needed to go whoop it up or something. So I decided it was time to have my shoulder-length braids removed.

If you don’t know anything about braid extensions, listen up.

They can take about eight hours or more to put in and three or more hours to remove. It’s not cheap. Nearly $200 for the installation, about $60 for the removal. So, needless to say, once I have my braids in, that’s where they stay for as long as I can make them last before they become fuzzy, frizzy and just plain frazzled.

I’d been rocking braids for more than a year. They were a mess, and I’d been hiding the ugly with bandannas and headbands for weeks.

My boys like my braid look, but mostly because they know braids make my life easier. No messing around in the mirror for hours, no bad hair days at all, really. I can do a lot with them — up, down, twisted. They are a true time saver after a hard morning workout: Just rinse in the shower, dry, dress and go.

But my oldest, Trey, remembers a short pixie cut I had once that he really loved. He has been saying for a few years now, “Mom, you really should cut your hair short. That’s you.” And Jordan, well he wants me to just go natural, a ’Fro or a loose wavy do, something wild and free. “Why do you have to do your hair, Mom? Just leave it alone,” Jordan has said.

Why? It’s a woman’s prerogative. It’s fun. It’s exciting, a change of pace. That’s why.

So I was off to the salon, Olivia’s, which has been on 39th Street near Main for 15 years and is now moving somewhere on Troost Avenue.

There’s no place like the salon: telling stories about raising children, aging, weight gain and having some real sista-to-sista girl talk about men and dating. I was there three hours.

At one point two women at a time were working on my head. A beautiful woman, here just five months from Ivory Coast, was wearing a short cut with red streaks that I loved. Later I learned she was wearing a wig. Olivia herself is also beautiful and gregarious, a petite native of Senegal and very knowledgeable about the care of black hair.

All the braids were gone. The stylists struggled against nature to comb out my naked hair, which once freed from the braids had poofed into a voluminous ’Fro. I liked it. On my way home I stopped at a beauty supply store and went looking for Ms. Ivory Coast’s cut in a wig. I found it, in my style, with bangs.

I sent a photo of me wearing freestyle hair to Jordan and another of me in my short wig to Trey. I got the same answer from them both: “Finally, Mom. I love it.”

What a great day. I met great ladies. We shared stories, photos of the kids and big laughs, and I got two new hairdos with the boys I miss in mind.

How’s that for adding spice to life? Wonder what I’ll do next weekend?

Mará Rose Williams:, 816-234-4419, @marawilliamskc