Blah Blah Blog
By Wendy Weinstein
Snap out of it. Post-Quarantine Blues.
“Snap out of it,” I said to myself. “It’s going to be okay. It’s going to be different, but you’ll adjust. It’s like riding a bike, just jump right back into it.”
Only now I’m riding an almost 40-year-old-bike and questioning if I want to get back on. The light hasn’t gone out. It’s just gotten brighter for different things.
I started hair school in 1980, so you do the math. Even though I consider myself perpetually 26 (the age I opened Ground Zero) I’ve been in the hair business for 40 years, with little to no breaks. I never once thought that something like this would happen — that on March 19th I would leave the salon and not return until July 9th. At the beginning, I was kicking and screaming about not being thought of as an essential worker. But as the weeks passed and the situation got more and more serious, I realized what part of my job really connected the most with my clients — and the actual haircut was the least of it.
I posted more than I ever have on my social media and blog to keep connected to people. My words spoke to those who wanted to hear them. I figured out how to make some money and take care of my clients by sending them color kits and making video tutorials. And I may or may not have done a few Black Market haircuts on my deck for some friends and family.
And even more than that, the time off gave me many opportunities to learn and grow and think about everything I’ve done and everything I still want to do, with my business and beyond.
So as the clock ticked away until my scheduled reopening, I was struggling to go back. To a place I always said I would never retire from. To a business and to relationships I’ve developed over the last 40 years. The cliché break-up line comes to mind, “It’s not you, it’s me.” I was having some really weird dreams that were making me question what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.
I talked to my friend Maria who I’ve known since hair school and owns a very successful salon and spa called Red Sage in the Northeast. During quarantine, we would compare what we were going through and pretty much had the same thoughts. I call it the five stages of lockdown.
- Anger at the government for shutting us down.
- Trying to figure out how the fuck we fill out those PPP PPE PUA forms – by the way, Ground Zero Mt Airy received nothing, so the second stage is actually “Confusion about everything.”
- Fear – there was a whole lot of that going on. Too many thoughts that creep in your mind when you have a lot of time on your hands. Who can I see? When will we be allowed to reopen? Will we be able to reopen? How long will it be like this? Will I ever get to see my dad – who is almost 89 and lives in Florida – again?
- Acceptance and renewal. That didn’t happen until around the 4th or 5th week. I was trying to figure out how to survive the uncertainly of our reopening by staying busy. As the days passed and I figured out the things that worked best for me and I was able to do so many things I had always tossed aside, I felt a sense of renewal that I’m sure a lot of people felt. And I liked it.
- Gratitude. I guess that didn’t happen until yesterday. It was different from the usual gratitude I feel every morning when I say my prayers and thank God for the things that have been given me. This time it happened while I was driving home from work after my first week back. I felt so overwhelmingly grateful. Grateful to be back to an environment I am very comfortable in, my salon. Grateful for everyone I work with who, despite having to figure out a way to do clients’ hair with masks on, did it with grace, ease and a real enthusiasm to see our clients again. Especially grateful to those clients who have been more than generous when checking out. Grateful that I have a job that I love, a place I love to do it in, and people I love that come in to see me. And really really grateful that I’m still here at almost 60. This is the stage that snapped me out of it.
So snap out of it I did.
But not before I decided to cut my hours at the salon and still have a couple more days to do the things I started during my four-month sabbatical. The salon opened on the 30th of June and I took another week off because I could. Simple as that. Now, I’ve added back an extra day to my work week. I’ve decided that running Ground Zero is what I love to do, but I can also do other things that make me happy.
So although getting back on that bike was difficult at first, these past four months have given me a deeper understanding of the inner workings of the machine. Besides the personal growth that this time off has afforded me, it has allowed me to slow down and connect with my clients and community in a way that I wasn’t able to before.
As my feet push the pedals down the familiar path of Ground Zero once again, I’m going forward with a new and different perspective that will guide me through reopening and into the future.