Tuesday, August 3, 2010
Hair Today and Gone Tomorrow
I love ‘what not to wear.’ I lust after the opportunity for a five thousand dollar shopping trip in New York. I would love to sit in the chair of a fabulous hair dresser and say, ‘do your worst.’ I would love to have someone help me fine tune ‘my look.’ I would love someone to give me more options in eyeshadow than just the sparkly taupe I’ve been wearing for years. Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately, I’m not totally clueless, and as my husband said, ‘there’s no way you’d get on that show, Lara, you’re too stylish.’
Lately my desire to sit in the chairs of experts has grown into an itch so bad that I think about it almost all the time. Lots of things are rubbing up against each other to make me want to throw myself at the feet of a designer and yell, ‘Just tell me what to wear!’
I think the main thing is that I stopped working. I have worked since I was fourteen. I have paid into social security since junior high. Three weeks ago my job ended and I let it. I didn’t have another job lined up. I wasn’t flipping through want ads. I wanted to stop. I wanted to take care of my baby. Full time. That’s it, no more classroom, or office. Just me and my laundry room and my baby. To say that hasn’t caused an undercurrent of self – doubt and identity confusion would be to lie. Who am I now?
I don’t want to end up wearing hoodies and yoga pants all the time. But it’s kinda tempting. It might happen a few days a week. Is that who I am? Am I that mom? The ‘tie my hair up in pony tail, I give up mom?’
About four months after I had Emma my glorious thick pregnancy hair starting falling out. There was two foot long pieces of hair everywhere. Everywhere. I marched into the closest hair stylist in Nairobi who knows how to cut white people hair, slapped down my fifteen dollars, and said, cut it off. And that’s what I got: a fifteen dollar cut. I have curly hair. Hardly anyone cuts it well. Every now and then I run across a stylist who seems to know what to do. Most of the time I end up with a lumpy hair do that makes me long for straight hair. Glorious, sleek, straight, non-lumpy hair. Four months later this hair has grown out and I have shoulder length lumpy hair. Most days it ends up in a pony tail.
A friend here in South Africa (with a great hair cut), needed a change. She booked us hair cuts with a guy in Johannesburg that she claimed was a real artist. I said great, I couldn’t wait to say, ‘do your worst.’ When we arrived in the salon he greeted us by coming over and tickling Emma under the chin and sitting down in the waiting area and asking us what we wanted. His lanky body folded in half as he perched his elbows on his knees and gazed at my scalp and as I babbled about just having a baby and not knowing what I needed but I needed something different and that in wave of rash action I let someone do this to me. He talked me into a hundred rand moisture treatment and I was off. In the chair my head back in the sink holding Emma on my lap.
When I got to his throne, a worker whisked Emma to the back of the salon, he draped his body into the chair next to mine and again asked questions. I explained that I would be living in a dry climate, that I needed something that would look good straight and curly because my hair flattened in the crackly thin air of Colorado. I told him that my hair had been long and I just wanted something different. He jumped up and began to comb through my hair, calling it pretty. He explained his vision for my hair and I said that I needed to do something with it when I exercised, and he said he’d have to leave this much. I sighed and said, just do it, just cut it. He chuckled and went to work. Talking to my hair as he went I could see that, like me, he was an artist. With his fluid motions and explanations of my hair and what he was doing I wasn’t too nervous.
After he was done I gazed at my short in the back long in the front, sassy new short cut and was in…
The thoughts running through my head were; Look at my cheekbones, look at my jawline, how am I going to find someone in my tiny one stoplight town to do this? The words out of my mouth’
“Okay. Cool. Thanks.” My friend sat there in horror, ‘Oh no. She hates it,’
I didn’t hate it; I just didn’t know what to do. I would have never picked this hairstyle out for myself. In a day or two I loved it. I found myself watching one of those makeover shows, I leaned back smugly and thought, ‘this is the first time in my life I feel like they wouldn’t cut my hair off.’