5 pm, in the hair salon. A haggard face stares back, hair in tin foil, legs kicked up on a dirty, torn, burgundy ottoman. It’s the end of a long day at work filled with student issues, parent emails, and deadlines. I pick up my phone to text my husband to ensure my son has been picked up and remind him to check his book bag for homework. It’s exhausting. I’m exhausted.
I glance over to the other women sitting wrapped in tin foil, hair baking, reading trashy magazines on a Tuesday night– the middle-aged woman in her yoga pants and teal Patagonia sweater catching up on The Kardashians; the elderly, fragile woman in her khaki slacks and black sweater reading Time Magazine; and I wonder what they did today. Did they leave their kids at home with their husbands, sitter, significant other? Maybe they don’t have kids or they’re grown? Did they work all day like me? Do their feet hurt? I observe one woman, a mother, gossiping to her shampoo girl about not getting along with the other moms in her neighborhood because she drives a motorcycle. A suburban rebel. She’s a stay-at-home mom with 2 kids- 7 & 12. She says,”It’s exhausting living in this county. I’m exhausted.” I drown her out- one less thing to think about.
I reach for a People’s issue on Meghan Markle and Prince Harry, put it back and reach for my phone, and pop in my earbuds to tune out the hen house.
I sit and mindlessly scroll through the mirage of social media- Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat to catch up on the lives of friends. The notifications that interrupted my classroom walkthrough at 10:20 am. I switch over to my group chat to see what I’ve missed, and like a virtual bookmark my phone jumps back to the start of the group g-chat. Like reading a good book, I’m eager to find out what’s so funny that sent my friends into a texting frenzy of messages at 11 am that kept my Fitbit vibrating for a solid 10 minutes. Fuck. It’s exhausting.
My stomach grumbles with dissatisfaction from the two cups of coffee and leftovers I had for lunch and the four nuggets I scarfed down from McDonald’s on my way here. While my hair sets, I schedule a reminder that I need to drink more water starting tomorrow. I check my personal inbox to read what my little one did at daycare and scroll through the photos of his day while my hairdresser checks the status of the chemicals bleaching my brunette to blonde. I check my work email and see a few teacher and parent emails wanting a response ASAP. Close the window. My hair is being washed and I count the ceiling tiles, picturing them as speckled post-it notes adding my mental to-do list to each and organizing them on the ceiling into neat connecting squares. My hairdresser asks me how my day went and if I’m liking my job. It’s exhausting. I love it.
My phone pings. My husband is home with my son, entering at 6 pm with Chick-fil-A for dinner. Great, he just had a McDonald’s Happy meal last night because I got stuck at work late and couldn’t make the tenderloin marinating in the fridge for dinner and my husband apparently forgot to make it, too. I refocus my attention on what the stylist is saying; she finishes up chatting about her dogs and being single and ready to mingle. “Fuck,” she says, “it’s exhausting. I’m exhausted.”
She flares out my hair and I tell her it looks amazing (thinking it’s too done just to go home and sleep on it) but, regardless, it’s gorgeous and needed to be done to cover the start of my grays. I pay and walk out to the indigo night with enough time to swing by my favorite Thai place and get home before my son goes to bed. I get a ping from my husband saying they’re eating green beans and he’ll save me some for when I get home. I’m thankful for the thoughtful gesture because I’m exhausted.
Kelly Robucci is a mom, a wife, a working woman, an educator, an avid reader, a novice writer, and lover of Thai food and wine.