You’d have to be a woman to understand what a traumatic experience I had today. I changed hairdressers. For most women, a hairdresser becomes an advisor, a friend, a touchstone. That’s how my hairdresser was. For 14 years, through thick and thin, we were a team. But now he has been ill and is retiring. I had to face the issue I had been trying to avoid: I needed a new hairdresser.

I called a friend whose hair I have always admired and asked her who she used. Then I called the salon and talked to the manager there about their services and personnel. Next, I made the appointment.

I was nervous before I went. Should I dress up or down? Jeans or skirt? (I finally decided on a casual skirt). I had trouble finding the place and was 20 minutes late. Everything was totally different from my old salon. This one was huge and bustling, with a large entryway/waiting room with a semicircular appointments desk big enough for three people to sit behind. First, I was introduced to my new hair colorist, then I was ushered to my new hairstylist’s chair and finally to yet a third chair where a separate person did the blow-drying because the stylist was backed up.

I approached each encounter with trepidation, but I was pleasantly surprised. The colorist couldn’t have been nicer or more professional. The hairstylist was quick and funny and gave me one of those great haircuts that you can tell works, even when it’s still wet. Even the young woman who blew-dry my hair was nice and efficient.

I felt myself settling into this new place with its 30 styling chairs, a lot of hustle and bustle and a river view. I could get used to this, I thought.

I realized at a salon so large, with so many people working there, that my cut and color was going to cost considerably more than it had at my former salon. I was right. It did.

But it was worth it. I had found a new home. It wasn’t comfy, like the old home, where I could talk gardening and fishing and family troubles with my hairdresser, who also had become my friend. There was no exchanging of book titles or favorite recipes.

On the other hand, these new folks kept asking me if I wanted something to drink, and even water came in a lovely tumbler with lots of ice and a slice of lemon with a straw. Besides, I realized it was a good place to visit, where I would come out looking a lot better than when I came in, and where everyone was welcoming and wore a smile.

I had a new bounce to my step as I left because I knew I would be coming back, but I also felt a sense of loss for my old friend, who wouldn’t be cutting my hair and sharing my joys and sorrows anymore