Saturday, July 17, 2010

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow

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.

The was right about that.  However, she also gave me a couple of months to think about my hair.  I have to admit, I liked it long.  Aside from assurances that I wouldn't look like a witch to frightened medieval French villagers, my hair gave me confidence.  I liked the way it felt on my back and shoulders.  (I knew the seasons would change and so would that opinion, but I wanted to enjoy it for a while longer.)  I also knew a braid or loose bun could pass me off with a modicum of sophistication — under the right circumstances (and lighting), of course.

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.)

My stylist wrapped my hair in a ponytail, then I felt the scissors separate it from my head.

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.

This record-breaking hot summer has made me grateful for my new style, and I didn't embarrass Valerie and Jessie at their wedding because of how I looked.

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.

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