I’ve been growing out my hair for over a year now. I went through the predictable stages of hating it, loving it, eating it and other joys. Many of you recently noticed that I took several inches off, ponytail be gone. Here’s what happened and why:
The first thing to grow out on your head? Bangs. The rest of your hair stands still but the bangs go gangbusters. Bobby pins re-enter life for first time since wedding in 1996. Lose all 100 of the pack you buy, overnight. Find them all again as soon as you buy new pack.
Hair approaches ears with caution, then passes over. Sleeping bad. Scratchy hair on pillow mucking up your ear on both sides. Every morning you try tucking it behind your ear only to have it spring out. You look and feel like a 7th grader defying his parents.
Hair reaches shoulders. Not all at the same time. There are patches that descend the side of your head beautifully. You see only these when you toss your new hair in the mirror, hair that moves, a new phenomenon. You ignore the tufts of horse hair sticking out from under the cooperative layer. It needs to be cut off but you are still in the stage where you won’t cut a single fricking strand.
You hate it. It’s a goddamn mess, it’s in your eyes, face, mouth. All these women walking around with long hair are part of a silent suffering tribe who won’t admit that long hair is a pain. You look at them and wonder, why? But you say nothing. You can’t believe hundreds of years of long hair could be this troublesome. You’re doing something wrong, but what?
You take out some scissors. It’s a bad hair day. You just spit toothpaste into your hair when it came swinging forward to greet the day with you. You feel rage, you feel helplessness. The time has come. You are leaving the tribe, a bunch of snaggle-haired lying fakes anyway. You clip one, then two, strands out. What looks like a few hairs turns out to be about a million fanning out in the sink below you. Oh no, you think, my hairdresser is going to kill me. You put the scissors away. You decide to suffer a little longer, wondering how it will end.
Your hair stinks. You used to wash your hair every day when it was short, when you combed it and styled it with a towel. Now you’ve found yourself dreading the chore of washing horsetail, so much so that this could be day 3? day 6? since you used shampoo. You are clean from the neck down only. Also, you’ve gained 5 pounds and it’s all hair weight. You feel like a nasty pig. You realize you’re going to have to force yourself to care for this beast growing out of your skull. The price of beauty is mighty. A little part of you dies inside for you know this must be the tribe initiation. The cleaning, the time, the worship of caring for it becomes a rite, the hours invested too much to lose.
You are halfway through a turkey sandwich picnic and yet again, you pull a hair the length of your cranium from your mouth. The wind picks up the minute you turn your back and your hair races into your mouth. Again. Your friend keeps talking. She, too, is eating hair. Everyone pretends this is normal, tasty even. You feel the tribe closing in on you.
Finally, you reach your breaking point. Your hair is long and nearly all grown out. It’s sitting on your shoulders, you can feel it on your back. You sit through a doc appointment and notice you can feel hair on your back above the paper robe. It feels like a finish line of sorts. I’m done, you think.
Next morning, you go to the hairdresser’s with the war cry, “CUT IT OFF!” The entire salon looks bemused and continues cutting their clients’ hair. Your hairdresser doesn’t even pick up her scissors. “You’ll make it, don’t worry,” she says. You’ll repeat this scene three more times, a few months between outbursts, reducing your plea finally to “Give me bangs, please? At least?”
You join the tribe. You decide you’re willing to buy lots of hair product, wash your hair a lot, dry it a lot, worry about it a lot. The deciding vote? You go to a concert and realize you can fix your hair up all pretty for the first time since your wedding. You ask your husband about 100 times, Isn’t this pretty? What do you think? I look like a new woman, don’t you think? Huh, don’t you?
He replies, “I like it short.”
You consider getting rid of him or the hair. Your decision sways each day. Finally you decide on axing several inches off. It took you 20 years to groom him, the hair only one.
You think about growing it out again, your bangs at least.