Summers of my youth were spent camping on the shores of Lake Huron, trekking through dunes, and turning Coleman tents into tiny palaces, complete with bedside tables and duvets. Multiple families, troops of children on bikes, sand in sleeping bags, and many, many bags of penny candy. But do you know what made me feel most like I belonged in that never-never land grid of dirt sites in the forest? The revolving hair salon that opened in older girls' camping trailers every afternoon. I would waltz out of there in full prom hair, a hairspray crown of affection and attention worn for all to see.
Other cultures address intimacy among friends and families a little more directly. In many parts of Europe, saunas hold space for closeness. When I was living in Indonesia, families would share massage in the evenings and take baths as an entire community. North America's hyper-individualistic culture holds us a little further away from one another. It may have been indirect, but the combing, curling, and braiding held important space for me. I'm not so much about the hardened hairspray anymore, but there is something special about getting my hair shampooed and styled at a salon. There is something different about paying someone to be close to you. I'm all for it; do not get me wrong. But I want to know, can we de-commodify intimacy? Can we resource it amongst ourselves?
We have pretty fantastical ideas of romance here in North America, causing many of us to zone in on creating intimacy exclusively inside our romantic partnerships. Check, check. Got the love. Success. Ahh, but the illusions of security are thick. People are lonelier than ever. Best to plant it in a variety of environments, and to tend to it often. The tricky thing about organic, homegrown intimacy is that you have to plant it before you need it.
But how do you start? How do you ask for more intimacy inside your friendships? You have to ask for it (*gulp*). Putting a desire out in the open is beautiful and vulnerable. One way to get your desires met is to make it easy for people to meet them. Give specific instructions. This can feel emotionally laborious. You don't need to overcomplicate it. You want to share what you want and invite people to meet you there. The perfect way to do ground this? Ritual.
Rituals hold space for transformation. They don't need to be fancy. One of my favorite rituals in my early twenties was watching the latest episode of Girls with my roommate Molly while we rubbed castor oil into our faces for 20 minutes. But today, I want to share something a little more grown-up. A more sophisticated version of my camping days.
I give you: The Hair Treatment using Hair Medicineby Meraki Nomad and gorgeous acetate combs by our very own The Lake. Meraki Nomad is a plant spirit artisan apothecary offering botanical infused medicines for ritual, healing, and beauty, perfect for this application. Hair Medicine can be used as a weekly, deep nourishing mask or as a soothing styling oil on ends and frizzy bits. This oil is full of rosemary, a plant known for cultivating focus, boundary tending, and hair growth. Win, win, win.
Gather with a friend to swap scalp massages, working the oil into the follicles with fingers before combing it through the ends. You can get right to work with each other. Let the intimacy of touch hold space for whatever needs to be said. Use throughout the week on dry ends or frizzy bits. Let the aroma carry you back to your ritual, reminding you of the connection you share, and how very, very cared for you are.
** Hopefully, you have close friends that would love to share this ritual with you, but maybe you are working on taking some of those surface-level friendships a bit deself-carecan feel scary to ask for more intimacy. The threat of rejection is enough to put it off. As they say, no risk, no reward, and your pal will most likely be grateful you took the first step.
It can be as simple as saying, "I would love to feel closer to you, I'm working on finding ways to divert some of my self care to community care. I am craving more connection. Want to do each other's hair? I have this hair oil I want to try. My arms get tired. We can take turns giving each other little scalp treatments?" If they get weird, that's probably not a person you want to invest time and energy into anyhow.
I hope the visuals below inspire you. This is me and my dear friend, Mika sharing the ritual, and soaking in that good, good, platonic intimacy. Platonic intimacy is the ultimate in resiliency. Love your friends.