Hot Wax and a Kind Heart


Tina Osterhouse -Hot Wax4

by Tina Osterhouse@TinaOsterhouse

The first friend I made after moving to Chile was my wax lady. Her name was Cecilia. I arrived in Chile at the height of a freezing cold winter, and moved in with my former in-laws. My mother-in-law was the perfect inhospitable host and treated me like I had some sort of secret plan to steal her life and take everything good from her. About six weeks after I arrived, I found a house for my family to move into and we jammed our American furniture into a tiny cabin with paper-thin walls and a leaking roof. It was the worst season I have ever known.

It was there, at the cabin house, that I discovered my marriage was far worse off than I had been willing to admit, that I had difficult decisions to make, and my life was a verifiable mess. I plummeted into a sea of depression I had no idea how I’d ever get out of. I spent most of the hours my children were in school sitting on a wooden bench beside my woodstove with my Bible and my journal in my lap, surrounded by a cloud of tear stained tissues.

What does a woman do who wants to feel beautiful and in control of her life once again? Well, there’s lots of things she does. Some go shopping. Some get more piercings or dye their hair. Some go on a diet and find ways to lose those ten pounds that have made them uncomfortable, in hopes that by shedding ten pounds, they’ll also shed their misery. I tried that. It didn’t work. 

So, I found a spa that specialized in Brazilian waxes. In Chile, it costs about twenty dollars to get a Brazilian, compared to the seventy-five dollars I was accustomed to in Seattle, and honestly, I was desperate to do something, anything to feel more pretty, and maybe do something that would satisfy my insatiable need to strip myself of all that was old. Ripping out all of my private hair in some beauty salon in a language I spoke, but did not yet feel at home in, was my way of taking the control back of my life. It was certainly an unusual way to take control. I was in a rare mood, indeed.

The wax rooms were down a spiral staircase that descended into a blue corridor with three black doors. It was hot, almost stifling, and the smell of melted wax hung poignantly in the air. It was hard to keep from gagging. Once inside the room, with my knickers off and my bare legs in the air, she started to stir the wax. She smiled, asked a few questions, and then started in on my triangular section, tearing out large sections at a time.

Feeling the hair ripped from my body, or maybe hearing the quick, confident sound of it, did something inside of me. I came apart. Hot uncontrollable tears cascaded down my cheeks and without care or discretion I told the woman pulling my hair out, all the secrets of my soul. I told her my marriage had shattered and that my heart was broken. I had put all my hope in this one trans-continental move and it was proving to be much more difficult than I ever imagined. I told her I missed my family and home in Seattle. I told her I was sad and afraid of the future. I told her I was lonely and bewildered. I told her I was overwhelmed.

Cecilia in all her waxing experience, who lived day-in and day-out with women’s private parts in her face, was not dismayed in the least by my confession. She patted my bare thigh and clucked at me like a mother hen. She assured me that what hurt right then, would eventually pass, and I’d find my way back to happiness. She told me I’d make new friends and that there would be good people for me in Chile. She also assured me that lots of women figure out how to make it through broken marriages and whatever happened, eventually I’d be okay. It was time for me to be strong, she said.

Eventually, Cecilia finished waxing me and blew baby powder all over my private area and patted me like a mother or older sister. Then she reached for my hand and sat me up. You need to be strong, she said once more.

My next visit somehow became her opportunity to open up and share a lifetime of heartbreak. Man after man had promised her the moon and couldn’t even seem to deliver the cheese. She had raised two children on her own. Winters were cold and she spent most of the nights in her house shivering. She worried for her daughter, Miranda. Her son was a soldier in the army. He was a good boy. Her mother lived with her.

Cecilia was the quickest waxer I’ve ever gone to. No gloves. No extras. Simple hot yellow wax, and a kind heart. It was sufficient because somehow we forged a tender friendship directly over the triangle of my disappearing hair.

I went to see her one last time, a few days before I came back to Seattle to tell her my marriage was indeed, over. That I’d finally, after three painful years, come to the decision that I needed to return home. No looking back. She cried. She acknowledged the painful weighty decision that it was. She also patted my bare thigh and clucked at me like a mother hen. “Chile wasn’t all bad, was it?” she asked.

“No. Chile was amazing. I met the kindest people I’ve ever encountered.”

“But now you’ll be with your people again. You’ll have your mom.”

“Yes, I’ll be with my people. But Chile became my people. Chile became my home. I learned how to suffer here. I’ll miss you.”

Her eyes welled up with tears. “I’ll miss you, too, Tina. We are friends. I’ll never forget you.”


About Tina:

I am passionate about living deeply and authentically. Through fiction, blog posts, and creative essays, I write about ordinary life and the way God meets us in our everyday circumstances and creatively weaves the sacred into them. I studied ministry and theology at Northwest University, most recently lived on thirty acres in Southern Chile, and finally returned to the Seattle area in June of 2015.




  1. Wow what a powerful and beautiful story, thank you for your vulnerability in sharing this.

  2. What a picture of how being vulnerable (truly!) topples walls and allows others to be vulnerable with us in return. Thank you for sharing so openly. Women need this so much.

  3. Rebecca Golightly says:

    Oh Tina. My heart aches with you. I envy your ability to so eloquently puts words to such heartbreak.

  4. Beth Pandy Bruno says:

    Tina, this is beautiful. And I relate. I wonder if its learning how to suffer in a place that finally forges its way into your soul? Turkey did the same for me and 9 years later, I cannot shake its place in my heart. I’m glad that being strong for you finally met returning to Seattle.

    • I love how you wrote that you can’t shake its place in your heart. I miss Chile so much and your words remind me that its place in my life remains strong and good.


  5. I have the exact opposite feeling about waxing–but I love the moment where you were able to open up to this woman serving you, and how that bond became real. It speaks to me of the incredible generosity of people. Once when I was in Argentina, a stranger caught me crying in our church’s bathroom, and she would not be deterred when I told her I was fine. I poured out my entire life to her and I am still so grateful she held my words when I simply had no place else to put them. Glad for you that you learned how to be strong. It’s so incredibly hard.

    • I love how tenaciously present the Argentinians are. They are so aware of everything going on around them and they completely understand what it takes to persevere. What a cool woman.

      Years ago, after I was lamenting the circumstances of one of my friends who was caught in an abusive marriage – (I couldn’t understand why she didn’t just get up and walk away.) a wise woman told me it had to do with internal power. There’s being strong externally, and then there’s a kind of internal strength that comes from knowing one’s worth and owning one’s place in the world. I think that’s what my three years in Chile was about. It was a pilgrimage that had to do with letting go of outward appearance and external approval, and finding my internal compass of strength. It continues to be incredibly hard … As Anne Lamott says, “I am not here to be everyone’s friend, I am here to be myself.” To that I say, AMEN!

      Love to you,


    • And how cool is it that both of us spent time in South America!!? I can’t wait to get together and speak Spanish with you!!

  6. Siki Dlanga says:

    I have never waxed before. I really enjoyed your storytelling ability with a bit of humour amidst difficulty. Thank you

  7. Ellen Graf-Martin says:

    Tina, I just love you. Thank you for being so real, friend. XO

  8. Helen Burns Helene Burns says:

    You truly have a gift to bring the sacred into the ordinary things of life. I am grateful for the life lesson you shared with all of us today Tina. It is a gift. xo

  9. I love the bonds we make in the most unusual circumstances! Those are always the best. To this day I am still best friends with my ex’s sister. She is actually in my wedding 🙂 God brings particular people in our lives for particular reasons. I am not one to question those friendships, but to embrace them while we have them!

    • That’s right. So happy you stayed true and remained friends with your ex’s sister. Sounds like she was the one you were supposed to have in your life!

      Much Love,


  10. I felt like this about my hair stylist in Taiwan. She became my friend and I still miss her.

    This is so hauntingly beautiful, Tina.

    • Thank you! We make friends where we find them, don’t we? And they turn our deserts into springs …


      P.S. I had a dream last night that we sat around and talked about SheLoves… fascinating conversation.

  11. What a tribute to the fellowship of women!


  1. […] some overwhelmingly beautiful aspects of my time in Chile; but the first year, in particular, was the darkest of my life. It was a year that stripped me of my assumptions about God and my faith in humankind. It nearly […]

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