In the 80’s and 90’s our town was very small which meant that our class remained together – the same 25 or so rugrats from kindergarten all the way through to grade eight. There were really no surprises come September other than the shocking new haircuts.
As an awkward introvert, that nagging pit in my stomach that craved consistency loved this. I took great comfort in knowing what to expect every year. I was established in tight friendships and in sports…but then the new kid walked in.
Oh how it frazzled my nerves.
It was in grade 6 when *Clara joined our class and she sat at our table because her last name began with a K like mine. She was different with her cute pixie cut and neon pink stained lips. None of us wore any makeup yet. It was her eyebrows though that caught my attention immediately. I could not stop staring at them.
They were so thin, as if they were drawn on by a teeny tiny toothpick dipped in deep black ink.
My brain fired off a million and one questions as our male teacher gabbed on about the rules of grade 6:
“Is she friendly? Mean? Will she like me? Will I like her? Will she take my friends away? Should I say hello first?”
You know, “normal” things people think about.
I wasn’t even processing what she was feeling – the new kid who didn’t have any friends at all. I imagine now that she felt 100 times worse than I.
But that’s how my brain has always worked.
She never said a word during class. At lunch, she daintily opened her brown bag. When I opened mine, I was punched with the smell of tuna. I quickly snatched out the cookies and folded the bag over to save myself from embarrassment. She looked over at me and smiled and I smiled back then awkwardly blurted:
“How do you make your eyebrows grow like that?”
My face rushed with hot red blood – I didn’t even say “HI” or “My name is” or “Welcome to our school”
Stupid. Stupid. Stupid
She smoothed her hand over her eyebrows.
“I mean, they’re awesome. I don’t do anything with mine.”
“Thanks!” she said and went on to tell me that she waxes them, “But you can pluck them too!”
Over lunch we talked more about eyebrows and bored Nathan to a T and then she told me where she came from. Her mom left her dad and opened up her very own salon in our town. They lived right above it. The next recess I introduced her to the gang.
That night I went home and took my mom’s mirror, the one that magnifies everything – even your soul – and I started ripping out hairs from the middle of my face. My eyes watered and the tears started to stream down my cheeks. I kept going till I got bored and utterly confused because there is no blueprint on how to pluck hairs. Basically, I was just torturing myself.
I smoothed my flat bangs back over my eyebrows because they weren’t even I’m sure.
I never touched them until grade 8 I believe.
Grade 10’s eyebrows were a nightmare.
When I was in my 20’s I found *Zee and she’s been grooming my facial fur ever since. She’s the Picasso of my face.
I haven’t been feeling well since before Christmas and I ventured out by myself to see her the other day. She opened her own business not too long ago. It is a little bit of a drive but I told her that I’d go any distance for her. She’s that good and I want to support her.
Zee is from the Middle East. Her story is quite fascinating – it is heartbreaking, scary, and I am incredibly thankful that Canada is her family’s home.
She tells me stories about her old life and I see sadness.
She tells me stories about her current life and I see her eyes sparkle – new business, her son’s succeeding in school, becoming a mother in law.
She’s just a great person.
Whenever I go there I often think of *Clara and when I first started to pluck my eyebrows. I haven’t heard from her since grade school and that’s been close to 24 years. Is she married? Does she have kids? Does she still have the same eyebrows? Just kidding…
It’s amazing that two different people from different times can intertwine – can impact one person – and can come together and create one story eh?
I’ve been thinking a lot about how we impact each other and how our stories even though we may not think they are important, actually are. People do listen, people do pay attention, people do read.
If you feel like you’re not doing anything BIG or SIGNIFICANT in your life, I’m here to tell you you’re wrong. Sometimes the littlest things you do, can be the BIG things for people.
You have worth here. Your story is important even if you feel the things you do are mundane. Keep telling your story. There’s only one of you that’s living your journey.
*I’m in here! Snag a copy (digital or print or both) of Holl & Lane at https://www.hollandlanemag.com/shop