I am obsessed with my hair. It’s long. There’s a lot of it. I spend entirely too much time worrying about how much more shiny it can be (Moroccan Oil, people – works wonders).
Men also love hair. Think of your last quality kiss? Bet he was up in your hair. I bet he even enjoys a bit of hair-pulling. You probably do, too. I’m not judging.
Hair is great. For me, it provides a few things, which the writer in me can’t help but to alliterate:
- Comfort — If I’m writing, thinking or stewing, you can also bet I’m twirling.
- Cheat — I feel like if my hair looks good, people don’t notice what doesn’t look so good. Result.
- Cover — When all else fails, I just hide behind it. Usually in photos. Turns out, this is both obvious and unphotogenic.
Why hair? Bet you’ve already guessed that my concerns are not entirely cosmetic, nor superficial.
To me, Christmas, the end of a year, it’s all very thoughtful. I take a lot of stock, not only in the year that’s passed, but on the passage of the years that preceded it — the choices that comprise a lifetime, all thrown into focus by a holiday that forces family and friends together and elicits status updates (delivered personally rather than on Facebook). A holiday that causes you to look around the table and note who is there, who isn’t — and who could’ve been.
So back to hair.
In my day job, I recently met a trichologist, a ‘doctor of hair.’ (And yes, I did inquire as to how I might make my hair even shinier). She informed me that long hair can be years-old. My own carries the last six years with it, at least.
And then it hit me — why hair and loss go hand in hand, or scissors in hand, as the case may be. In a movie, you know a woman feels loss when she stares in front of a mirror, wet-eyed and holding comically oversized shears for a DIY haircut. We read about women in books, who after tragedy, head straight to the hairdresser. When my own father died, I rushed to lop off about eight effortfully cultivated inches. I didn’t even think about it; it was impulsive.
Hair is an immensely powerful symbol. Certain religions mandate its cover to contain its energy, often sexual. Some cultures cover the dead in it, as it is technically dead, but still grows and thrives. And in countless cultures, mourners shave their heads to sever ties with or to honour those who’ve died.
But all this shaving might not be about symbology. Maybe it’s about cutting pain out of your life. In fact, after talking to the trichologist, I was half tempted to run to my stylist immediately and demand that she eliminate the bad memories of those six years.
- The end of a 10-year relationship.
- The heartache of the one that came after it, so full of promise — and stacked odds.
- The toxicity of certain nights out and the toxicity of the men I met on them.
- A bad job, followed by an unchallenging job, followed by the horror of acquiring an addiction to Mafia Wars as a result of boredom at said job.
Cut it all off, I thought. Start fresh.
But I thought better of it. Firstly, I love my hair. It’s the longest — and shiniest — it’s ever been. Shot from behind (and waist-up), I’m pretty sure I could be mistaken for a Kardashian.
And of course long hair is incredibly feminine. And I love being a woman.
But more than anything, I earned those memories. I learned from them. While I don’t always act it, I should be smarter by now. Isn’t it better to carry that with you than to cut it off and bury it deep?
You may have figured it out: I’m no Christmas girl. I’ve lived too long and I can happily buy my own gifts. And I think we should work to conjure ‘our better angels’ all days of the year, instead of just the one. But like long hair, I like to carry the memories of past Christmases — good and bad — and all the learnings of all those year-ends with me. Because we do get smarter. And that’s almost as good as shiny hair.