The receptionist wanted to know if she could walk me through other options now that Carmen was no longer with the salon. I didn't respond quickly enough.  She repeated, "So would you like to book with another of our stylists?"

Someone at work waited for me to finish something important while I stared down the hall of options. Hmm. I didn't want to find another.  I wondered if I could DM Carmen and follow her to her new other opportunity? Was she freelancing now? Did she have her own space? Was she a kitchen stylist? No, she was too good for that. 

I chose my words carefully. 

"I'll cancel Saturday's appointment and reschedule some point in the future."

I found Carmen in January and she cut my hair with such reverence and careful admiration that it grew more from her squinting and combing and lathering than it had from when I'd braided it up. Also, she recalled what I'd said during previous appointments with startling accuracy.  In her chair, I said things like "I'm a poet," "I'm cooking chicken tonight," and "Yeah, I guess she is well behaved compared to most children."

Under the vanity lights, fiddling with very hot ceramic tools, she followed up on bits of my life. "How did your meal turn out? You know! The one you were in a rush to get back home for because you had friends coming over."

I continued to the receptionist:

"I guess what I'd like is to find a new stylist very similar to Carmen if it can't be Carmen.  I'm getting married and the next time I come in will be just before my wedding."

I'd been passed to a manager mid-explanation.  There was a more experienced voice on the phone now.

"We understand your concern and I assure you each and everyone here can give you the experience that you're looking for."

I was sure they could too. But that wasn't what left me unexpectedly blank. 

What was that? It reminded me a little bit of loss.