I got my hair cut today for the first time in almost two years. Before that I hadn’t cut my hair in three years. It’s become an accidental tradition that my hair gets cut during transitions – university, graduation, and now a new set of work possibilities.
The man who cut my hair was patient, and happy that I had opted to shear off about 5-7 inches that had been growing ever since my last trip to the academy. “I just want it to be big and light”, I said “more curls, and not so flat on the top”. He obliged, running through a square cut with circular layers, and slowly drying it. In the end it bounced up, just below shoulder length. I was pleased.
My hair through years has become reflective of where I am. In the harsh heat of Sudan I cut it short, “like a boy” as my neighbour would say. People would look at me a little funny, make assertions about what it could possibly mean, but it was worth it to not deal with the sweat that used to stick to the back of the neck. When I arrived in London for university, various happenings meant that it would not be cut until just before my graduation ceremony and even then just a trim. The long length became its default state in a cold nation, a home-grown veil to guard against winter chills. And like I had become attached to the short crop at 16, I now clung to every inch, wanting it to trail down and cover my breasts like Eve. I had never been attached to the feminine but something about the hair made me feel protected.
Before heading off today I debated what to do. Up until I gestured to just above my chest I had been convinced I would only ask for a trim, but in that moment I changed my mind. I stopped myself from instinctively correcting that initial urge. You are doing this, I thought, it needs to change.
I held my breath as I watched Dave make the initial cut.
Once it was done it didn’t feel that different. I expected a grand sense of loss, but it was just my hair as always, albeit shorter. I had spent so much time putting off the trim thinking that it would alter me in some way that I hadn’t considered I was old enough to not care.
I am glad that I went with my gut. It was a fear that wasn’t really there, like so many other fears in my mind. I have irons that I need to strike, and the haircut reminded me that in the end you should always try something a little different in order to remember that change doesn’t have to be harsh or full of regret – it can also be an adjustment to maximise your life, like taking off the hair to fight the heat, or growing it to beat a chill.
As I left I promised Dave that I wouldn’t wait so long for my next cut. I won’t.
I doubt it’s unusual to only cut your hair for special occasions since special occasions are usually the things that remind you you’re in need of a haircut. (And by “you” I mean “me,” of course.)
Though for the last several years I’ve enjoyed plunking myself down, taking off my glasses (not so I can’t see, but with that effect), and telling the beautician to have fun. I only mention since you said you’re going back soon(er than you would otherwise), and if you want to try something scary… ;)
(I’ve actually found these haircuts tend to work better with my hair than the ones I ask for on my own; I guess professionals know what they’re doing or something. But you do have to be ready for the woman with a paintbrush who’s been waiting all her life for someone to say this and who loves peacocks. My hair was amazing, you just have to be ready for it.)
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I think you’re right – special occasions are good prompts for all of those little maintenance things we fall behind on.
For a while I’ve been tempted to go for one of the hair model things, where you have no input in what the hairdresser does and they go wild with colour and cut, but I’ve been a little nervous that I would regret it. Seeing your results (you look fabulous!) has made me feel a lot more confident so I think I’ll have to do that next time, and report back with the final product!
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You just made me unreasonably excited about your hair. I will attempt to contain myself. ;)
Oops, went a bit off on a tangent there. What can I say? I like hair! :)