Well, folks, my 33rd year on this pale blue dot has begun. Today, I turned 33. And I have to say, it was one of my best birthdays on record. I was able to do something today that I never thought in a million years I’d do. And in this doing, I became myself again.
As some of you know, I have been growing out my hair for two years and one week to donate to the Pantene Beautiful Lengths organization. They are run by Pantene and make wigs available to cancer patients, free of charge. My sister and I decided we’d do it, and today, I did it. I cut 9.5 inches of hair off of my head to give to someone else. And I have never felt more free in my entire life.
I walked into the barbershop today with my husband and kids; my mom, and my brother came as well. And as I sat in the chair talking to my barber, I was nervous. I don’t know why. I don’t know if it was the enormity of the task I had undertaken or if it was purely nerves because it had all come to the end. As she separated my hair into sections to chop off, I started to feel elated. I was excited, anxious. I wanted her to get to it and get it over with. I wasn’t afraid of changing my mind, Lord knows I have been ready for this for at least a year, haha. I was just so excited that I had done something that some people, myself included, didn’t think I could do. I am the short hair girl; the last time I had hair of any length was for my wedding, and I couldn’t stand it so much that I chopped it off two days into our honeymoon. That’s me. I have short hair.
For two years, I have not cut, colored, abused, or even mismanaged my hair in any way. Lord knows I do love my hair color, and I am a short hair girl, so this would be an enormous task for me. I was determined. And for two years, I took vitamins, deep conditioned, used masks I didn’t know existed, and I dealt with what I had detached from. I had no connection to the hair. I did not allow myself to grow too fond of it, though some days it was hard, as I knew it wasn’t for me. It was not mine to love. Mine would be there to love once I removed what was for someone else. Mine was waiting for this to be taken out of the way.
Today, mine became mine again. And I am so glad my family was there. “This is a really special day for you, Mommy,” Ellery reminded me as we got out of the car at the shop. “You get to give your hair to someone who doesn’t have any.” And I want them to remember that. As my barber was cutting it, the girls kept coming back to check on me, making sure I was still really there, unchanged in anything but appearance. I want them to remember how important it is to give to others, even those we cannot see. And I gave myself up, my true identity as a short-haired sassypants and all that is encompassed within that identity, to give someone else a chance at a normal life when their world is anything but. I buried who I really identify as, for two years, and I carved out a new short-term identity. In my grandma’s memory, I allowed myself to not go back on a promise I had made. And though it wasn’t always easy, I felt Gram Alice’s support sometimes reminding me that I am a woman of my word, a promise is a promise, and that I can do anything for a short time.
The barber next to us today told me, about mid-cut, that he could feel my energy lifting, my demeanor had changed, and he could feel I was so happy, that I felt so good. And he was so right. It was almost instant, palpable, the energy around me lifting. Two years of nothing but growing and praying for it to be long enough, hiding behind this curtain of hair, being comfortable in a ponytail was gone. And I emerged, vibrant, happy, glowing; my true identity burst through unapologetically.
And I will never, ever be able to go back.
This was on my head, and now I am prepping an envelope to send it to someone who needs it, and deserves it, far more than I do. This is truly surreal.