I wore my hair down the other day; it had been about 8 months since I’d done so. My classmates at CSU said things like, “Whoa, your hair is really pretty, I didn’t know it was so long.” Or, “you should wear your hair down more often.” These were awesome things to hear, and I might admit to having done a casual hair flip, but inside I was ready to claw my face off. The wind was blowing, as per usual, in the vortex of the quad and the pale pink Mac lip gloss I had applied earlier that day was acting as a magnet to my hair. Every strand was stuck to my lips until I looked like a blond crazed version of Cousin Itt. Loose flyaways reached up and tickled my face so that by the end of the day I ended up with a trail of fingernail ruts across my nose from the scratching.
Why do I have long hair then, you might ask? Dorothy Hamill, trauma, and a 4th grade promise, that’s why.
When I was little I had fairly long tresses. Unfortunately I didn’t want my mom combing it, fixing it, touching it. At. All. My head was sensitive and every time she’d grab a brush I would cry. Her solution to my constant blubbering was to take me to the salon and have them give me a Dorothy Hamill haircut.
You’ve never heard a kid cry harder or with more intensity. My hair looked loathsome and utterly, undeniably ugly to my 4th grade self. All of my friends had long, beautiful, shiny hair, and I looked like a slovenly version of a skater I didn’t know. Worse than long hair that isn’t combed or fussed with is short hair that isn’t combed or fussed with. I made a promise to Monica, as solemn a promise as you can make when you’re in the 4th grade, that when I grew up I would never have short hair; at ninety my white hair would be flowing down to my butt. And I’ve kept that promise.
But to what end? My hair is held up every day with various clips, bobby pins, and hairspray so that not a single lone piece ends up on my face. Why don’t I just cut it off? Not in a Dorothy Hamill, obviously, but in a fresh, stylish cut like Halle Berry? A couple of reasons; very few women that I’ve seen look really gorgeous with short, short hair and I am certainly not Halle Berry, and there seems to be a trend that when a woman gets older, gets married, has kids, her lengthy coiffure is the first to go. That has always bothered me.
However, what I’ve realized is that my attachments to my long hair don’t make any sense whatsoever. Is it my 4th grade pinky swear? Is it the notion that if I were to cut it I would be telling the world I’m older and don’t have time to care? Or is it the trauma and how utterly ugly I felt having sported a skater’s haircut for five long years of my youth? I’m not sure. What I am sure of is that it’s entirely possible to carry around unrealistic attachments and gigantic thinking errors for thirty+ years.
Frankly, the mere thought of cutting my hair short sends me into an utter panic. Sheen sweat forms on my brow and upper lip and I’m afraid I’ll be forty sitting in a barber’s chair crying (as opposed to being ten sitting in a barber’s chair crying.) Even more ridiculous is the idea I cling to that it will never grow back and I will be stuck with dismal, limp short hair. At the end of the day I’m no closer to letting go of this admittedly insane attachment than I am of letting go of the turkey leg on Thanksgiving.