This has been a fabulous summer to date, with the summer of 2010 becoming one of the best of the century so far. (2008 rocked, too, despite a few curves thrown in.)
One of the first things I did this summer was change my look, for the better and for the benefit of at least one person: I lobbed off nearly a foot of hair to donate to Locks of Love.
Honestly, I hadn't really thought about my hair in ages. The last time I made a conscious effort to style my hair in any particular fashion was when I got it trimmed in the spring of 2008, a couple of months before David and I were married. After that, I wanted practical: if I couldn't French braid it, that style wasn't for me.
I was surrounded by women with stylish hair, and often I noted to myself how attractive they looked. However, I also wanted something that was quick to fix, and after a 6-mile morning run, I had little time for fashion. Plus, I like long hair: it's lovely, romantic — and, most importantly, if I wound up by accident in a 14th century French village á la Michael Crichton's novel Timeline, I wouldn't be executed for witchcraft because of my short hair. (Actually being a witch would do it for me.)
However, this past spring, I got the bug. Honestly, I don't remember if it was because Valerie mentioned that she might consider a donation after her wedding (the real reason the Summer of 2010 rocks!). (By the way, Valerie's hair is twice as long as mine, and lovely, so a trim of 10-plus inches would be a walk in the park for her.) I know I was tired of pulling long strands of my hair out of the sink. I might have been intrigued by the use of natural hair in oil booms.
What I did realize is that it was time for another donation.
When I walked into the salon, I was armed with my laptop and photos of Jenna Elfman's cute hairstyle. I was ready for my stylist The to do her magic.
Well, I thought I was ready. The knew better, and whipped out her ruler to make the point. "Too short," she said. I disagreed as I pulled a very long hair off my sweater and held it between us. She smiled and reminded me that I really wanted to have some hair left on my head after the donation. (I could not argue with that assessment.) After my trim, The told me I would be ready in a couple of months. (I suspect she learned that vague language from my orthopedist, who for three months told me to wait "two more weeks" before I could start walking again.)
I departed with my photos, my laptop and delightfully conditioned long hair — and a promise that those "couple of months" would pass in no time.
Finally, I had to admit: my hair was how I saw myself. However I styled it — braids, bun, barrettes, a pencil jabbed through the back — I knew it was how people saw me. I liked what people saw. I liked what I saw.
I wasn't adverse to short hair; in fact, I'd had short hair for most of my childhood, starting with a pixie cut that gave my mother two little-girl braids to keep in her bottom drawer as a reminder of her own little pixie.
Soon I realized the long and short of it: with short hair, there was nowhere to hide. If I had a bad hair day, I couldn't just tie it back with a cat-shaped clip. I don't know if you're aware, but short hair can stick up. Not since the movie There's Something About Mary has long hair stuck up on a person's head. There's safety in that.
There's also identity. Say what you will about people being more than the sum of their parts, but we are known by our parts. I was easy to spot with a swath of blonde hair halfway down my back. I recently had changed my name — and with a new look and new name, who would I be?
Well, I told myself as I settled into the stylist's chair, I would be me. I would be Chris, wife to David, stepmother to three fabulous kids, soon-to-be mother-in-law to another, a writer, runner, vegetarian, cat-lover, reader — all of the things I already am, just with less hair to dry after the morning run. (Would that improve my punctuality? One could only hope.)
When she handed me the ponytail, I didn't know what to do with it. As I looked at it, I realized that ponytail wasn't me. It was just hair.
At that moment, I also realized that someone was that much closer to having a head of her or his own hair.
I'm sure my ponytail went to good use, and a little girl or boy can be a blonde with a little help from me.
Not bad for a trip to the salon, I must admit.