When I met my partner she had streaks of blonde in her hair. When I would sneak a glance at her I'd notice how it reflected in the sun, the shine of her hair flowing in the wind. It had started to fade from the blonde streaks back to her natural brown hair, and behind it had left a beautiful blue green gray. I had known her briefly before this change, I had seen her around school talking to all the people I knew. Short reddish hair that morphed to blonde.
I wonder how much of her history is in that hair, how much of it has grown out and in, I wondered how much of her history was in that fade, the slow transitions from one stage to the next.
When I cut my hair, the stylist had some hesitation. She asked me several times if I was ok with cutting it all off. If I was ok with going that short, making that much of a change. When she started she turned on the clippers and took a deep breath.
“Ok i’m going to go ahead and start now.”
When I met my partner I had short hair, besides one brief encounter with long hair, it became a mop on my head covering my eyes and face, I’d always had short hair. But now I had short hair, trimmed in what I would later describe to my stylist as “a normal dude haircut.” There was no history in my hair, no memories, no hands running their fingers through it, no color fading. Every few months like clockwork I would cut it off. And start again. Like turning over an hour glass just before the sand ran out.
I wonder how much history I could have kept in my hair, how much I trimmed off over the years.
Clumps of hair fell from my head while I sat in the chair. A pile of it grew larger and larger on the ground. People’s curiosity seemed to grow with each strand cut off. They’d sneak a glance from their seats waiting. The people at the front counter stopped their work to stare at me.
“I’m going to move this out of the way, just so I don’t trip on it.”
I don’t know why I grew my hair out. But it went around my shoulders and down my back. When I swam I could feel its weight along with me, when I slept I could feel it beside my face. I don’t know what I was looking for, I don’t know why I was growing it. But I wanted to. And I did.
When I looked in the mirror it was different, I saw myself as something else, long hair curled around my head, or pulled up in a bun, behind my ears. When I biked down hill I could take out my tie and let it flow behind me. I told myself then, at the beginning, that I would only do it for a little bit. I’d only grow it a bit, then i’d stop.
I expected history to be in my hair.
I watched a live stream of a good friend of mine shaving his head. With his family around him he decided it was time. He took out the clippers and took a deep breath, and gradually shaved off the remaining strands of hair from his head.
I knew my grandmother with short kept hair, I remember her with no hair, with something wrapped around her head, or at the latter part of her life a wig placed neatly on top. I never thought to ask then what it meant to her. I never thought about the history she must have carried with her. Or how it felt to lose it so gradually, so out of your own control. I wonder now if like me, and so many others, she felt the weight of those memories drift off her. I wonder if like my stylist she took many deep breaths.
I position myself in relation to others.
I’m no good at drawing people, at capturing human forms or how faces look. At capturing how the hair flows down shoulders or how a neatly kept cut sits. I’ve never been able to draw the proportions right, to get the hands and feet to look right. My partner can draw people. Pages of her sketchbooks are filled with all types of life drawing. Of human forms and peoples faces. And in each one she captures something different in them. A slight smile, a stoic pose, crows feet by the eyes.
My coworker stops by my desk. He asks me about my hair, tells me about his days in the 70’s growing his hair out. Working construction and having it flow in the wind. He tells me about the day he finally cut it off. Going to a barber and telling them he wants a normal dude haircut. Watching it flow to the ground.