I am learning about the importance of doing little things for yourself every day.  If you love flowers, make a flower arrangement or work in your backyard.  If you are into art, visit a local gallery or buy a canvas and paint –create something.  If you are a film buff, sneak off and catch a matinee before the kids get off the bus.  A mini personal holiday can go a long way to increasing your joy in everyday life.  Yesterday, in pursuit of my own battery recharge, I made an appointment for my first straight razor shave.

I have been shaving for quite a while now, and I for the most part trust the person who does the work.  A straight razor shave in a barbershop is different.  You lay back, close your eyes and expose your neck to someone you don’t know who has a very sharp blade.  It is somewhat unnerving if, like me, you are not accustomed to it.  I cannot help but analogize this to working with a divorce lawyer.  Expose your neck and trust.

The barber was a pretty young guy, which these days to me is anyone under the age of thirty-five.  He was dressed sharp, tapping around on his mini iPad when I arrived.  “Ever had a straight razor shave?” he questioned.  I thought about how my clients probably felt for the last fifteen years when they saw me.

“No.  First time.”

“The process is going to be pretty repetitive.  Lots of hot towels, oils and creams.”  He tucked the collar of my shirt down, wrapped towels around my lower neck and draped me in a blue, houndstooth apron.  His motions said he had completed these steps over and over every day.

“Okay.  Let’s do it.  I have a several days growth for you.”  My thoughts went to the client who assures me his situation is the most messed up I have ever heard.

“That’s a common misconception, you can do a straight razor shave with any length beard.”  He smiled, raised my chair and laid my head back.

The first step was a hot towel.  I closed my eyes and let the heat sink into my face and melt away the busy morning of work.  He removed the towel and massaged my beard with thick oil infused with lavender.   I love lavender.  It smells purple and fresh.  Next came another towel, this one invigorated my skin and emulsified the lavender.  My mind began to rest.  The barber worked steadily.  I heard the click, click, click of mortar and pestle, and then with a soft brush he smoothed cream over my stubble.  Here comes the blade, I thought to myself.  I’m less relaxed now.  Instead, my face was wrapped in another hot towel and my mind drifted again, but more aware of what was coming next.  Finally, the towel was removed.  I heard click, click, click again and then I felt the cool cream on my face.  I opened my eyes and my barber had the shinny, silver blade in his hand.  This is probably how my clients feel when they see their name on divorce papers for the first time.

“Here we go.”

The first couple of strokes were okay, but as he continued, it became more and more excruciating.  I think I started crying a little.  I know I did on the inside.  You’re a man.  Be tough.

Realizing what was going on as I winced, the barber retreated to repeat the oil, towel and cream ritual once again.  He started back with the blade, and by the time he got to my chin, I was ready to quit.  I am paying someone to do this to me? This is terrible.  I am an idiot.  The direction I shave comes naturally, but I am positive he was going against the grain in some sort of whacked out way.  When is this going to stop?  Holy God!  And then with a few instructions and the last swipes of the blade, the shaving was over.

“Your beard is pretty course.  That probably hurt a little didn’t it?”

“It wasn’t too bad,” I lied.

Finally, there was more oil, more cream and a quick once over with the blade.  This one was tolerable, almost enjoyable.  Oil with a different consistency smelling of lavender was smoothed on my ultra clean face and then a final towel.  This last one was chilled and refreshing.  Like lemonade with crushed ice and a hint of lavender on a hot Mississippi day. Finally, a dusting of powder, light but substantial, and an electric trim of some stray hair, and with the swipe of my credit card I was on my way.

Closest shave of my life.

Divorce is like a straight razor shave because you are exposing your neck to your lawyer in a court system in which you are a stranger.  The judge holds the blade.  There are highs and lows in divorce, but if it is right, you will walk away renewed, clean and although you experienced pain, you are a better versions of yourself.

Craig Robertson is a family law attorney practicing throughout Mississippi.  

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