i cut off most of my hair. or, i asked for most of my hair to be cut. no small moment for the woman who perpetually checks the mirror to be sure that her post-chemo hair looks decent. i thought my hair would grow back in 6 months but the truth is it took almost 2 years to have a reasonable head of hair. reasonable means that there were no major (plenty of minor) bald spots and i could start getting the stylist to cut pretend bangs. pretend because the delicate hair at the front hairline didn’t really grow back – even tho using minoxidil helped the bulk of my hair growth – that front line just gave up the game.
i’ve been trying to keep it long – for me that means that it just touches my shoulders and has some ‘swing’. my hairdresser has known me for over 25 years. he did my hair at my wedding. he permed my hair in the 80’s into big beautiful curls when i was out in the world as a professional singer – oh the big hair! when it became clear that i’d need a wig, i brought it in and he cut the wig. i was trying so hard to be brave. i put it on and had to hold it down while he cut it. i was sobbing the whole time but determined. everyone tried to pretend that i wasn’t sobbing. he wouldn’t let me pay for that visit. i cried more.
for the past 2 years, he’s been working to bring my cut into normal focus and has really succeeded. but lately, i’ve been looking in the mirror and realizing that i looked too old for my hairstyle. my face was older – hell, i’m about to turn 53 in october – but my hair was the style from my 40’s. respectable but aging me. i made an appointment. but not with him. i love him but instinctively, i realized that i needed a new set of eyes looking at me – to help me reinvent myself – or, at least, my look. but making that step – to voluntarily cut my hair to a level that was close to the growing-out phase had not been something i had been able to face. i quietly booked an appointment with a local hairdresser who, i know, works with lots of women my age and seems to be good at the short haircut. i didn’t talk about it with anyone. i just put the appointment in my datebook and went. he knew my story already so i was grateful not to have to repeat the telling. and yes. i have short hair. i closed my eyes and didn’t open them until it was done. he was grateful i wasn’t going to second-guess him. and when i opened my eyes, i saw that i was right. i was ready. i was not the barely-haired woman from 4+ years ago. i was a hip-looking tossled-hair 52 year old woman with noticeably less ‘blank’ spots and a physical and emotional lightness that i had only secretly thought possible.