We’ve had some ups and downs, my friend. The baby book picture with a haphazard red bow scotch taped onto a nearly bald head. The little blonde girl who caught that big fish. The 8th grade mullet and rat tail (in my defense, was 1984). The gelled back sideburns, those bangs. Oh, those bangs with enough aquanet to hold the pick straight upright in them.
The college grunge years with the ensuing tension headache from the worlds heaviest ponytail, but Lord, I could headbang like a rock star. The college graduate mature chop.
Bad cut after bad cut living in a rural ohio town, then the move back up to Cleveland and a stylist, not hairdressers. The wedding grow out. The ill advised pregnancy bob. Hair that my sons wrapped their tiny sticky fingers in as they nursed and snuggled. hair that bigger boys buried their faces in when they cried. And now, at 43, a love story. A stylist who trims and shapes and lets it grow, who paints on highlights like the sun itself did all those years ago. The right balance of products and benign neglect that has strangers complimenting me in the library parking lot and in hospital waiting rooms, colleagues sighing wistfully as I walk past, and friends playing with after a cocktail or too (there’s so much….).Hair that my African-American students excitedly tell me, “you got good hair, Mrs. J”. (I believe there are few higher compliments than that).
Hair my husband wraps his hands in in his sleep, hair he comes up to and lifts the tension off absentmindedly while he kisses the back of my neck. Hair they all complain about in the bathroom and the kitchen, but that’s why you can’t shake a stick around here without hitting a pony tail holder. It’s long, soft, caramel and brown and blonde (with grey that sneaks out when I’m to cheap and busy to address that). To the middle of my back in a wavy V that finally looks like all the damned Pinterest pictures.
And now they tell me you’re leaving. We’ve got 2 weeks left. It’s not just hair. It’s history. It’s intimacy. It’s pride. It’s control. It’s time. It’s a goddammned fortune, to be sure, but it’s who I am. And once it goes, I’m just another terrified cancer patient.