I have come to terms with my appearance, and am generally speaking fairly happy with it. I made peace this summer with my slightly equine smile, and while I would prefer to be achingly translucently thin, I am not upset by the fact my cup over-floweth and trickles downwards to spill, somewhat despondently, over my waistband.
While certain parts of me have followed a particular love/hate cycle, I am, and have always been, exceedingly vain and pleased with my hair. I have an unabashed love affair with the tangled mop of relatively thin but abundant strands that sit, usually piled, upon my head from day to day.
I have treated it badly; I have cheated on hairdressers, I have held wet strands of jello like hair falling from my scalp over the kitchen sink after a bad bleach job. Somebody should have taken that poor abused shoulder length mop to the halfway house of hot oil repair, but it stayed.
It stayed through the tumultuous virginial period of going from my naturally pale blond locks to an epic deep auburn bob. It stayed through dozens, litterally dozens, of fruit salad like boxes of Feria “Black Cherry”, streaked through with shocking strips of “Raspberry Beret”. It rushed with me to the salon, damaged and orange under a cloche hat after an attempt to go from “Black Cherry” to “Midnight Blue” with one fell swoop of bleach, landing clumped and sad somewhere around “Calico Stray Cat”. It stayed, like a hopeful partner, untouched, untreated and uncut in California blond territory for years, until a particularily bad breakup prompted a date with my neighbor (a woefully unskilled but adventurous best friend) a pair of kitchen scissors and a box of “Dark Chesnut”. After mending the same broken heart with the same broken man, he took me to a salon to restore my crown of blond hair, creamy and white, beige and righteous.
So it sat, untouched and swearing that this, this was the last time, even through that final breakup, until I tricked it last year into a stunning, shocking and entirely too high maintenance red that made me feel beautiful and wild and strange. After settling down with J, a man who is only too happy that I still have hair, I begrudgingly and it happily returned to a dirty blond, waiting for the next whiff of bleach to entice my nostrils, stealing itself for the next heartbreak, the next upheavel.
This summer, as I prepared to embark on an adventure that I was not ready for, not looking for, and frankly, so incredibly scared of, I realized for the first time I wanted to change my hair – not out of angst, or sadness or madness, but for fun. I walked out of the salon with pink and blue and purple hair, thick and shiney and fun and wild, laughable and so entirely not me that I could be anyone that I wanted. To embark on an adventure that wasn’t me, as not me.
Being as vain as I am, and as poor as I am, such high maintenance hair required a dual effort on behalf of Jared and I. Being as vain as I am, and as poor as I am, is how I ended up standing in the shower, naked as the day I was born and as fuscia from head to toe as some mythical creature born of Narnia and raised in an alternative strip club.
We had decided between us that it would take four hands to really tackle the bright pink fringe with Manic Panic dye, arming ourselves with scads of saran wrap, tin foil, dollar store paintbrushes and hair clips. We carefully painted, clipped, massaged and pinned my hair into My Little Pony locks of awesome, one painstaking section at a time. After dutifully waiting the prescribed ammount of time, and flipping the remainder of my hair in a Cindy Lou-Hoo style top pony tail, I doffed the tinfoil and jumped in the shower.
Dear sweet Joico in Heaven, it was a disaster. FUSCIA water streamed down my shoulders, staining my breasts pink, my nipples violet, the fine hair on my arms retained a patina of powder-puff, my earlobes hanging cherries of psychedelic hue. My fingers, attempting madly to scrub at the mess pooling around my now more than blush feet, had turned a perfectly scarlet shade of ridiculous. Screaming and cursing as I peered through now definitely rose colored eyelashes, Jared peeked into the stained shower and turned my screams to hysterical laughter.
“You,” he gasped, “Look maaaggiiic.”
Over a week the pink wore off my skin, was filed out from under my fingernails. The stripe down my back faded, and my torso returned to it’s usual pale and un-magic state of porcelain. Our grout is still the color of a highlighter, and the shower curtain will never be the same.
Last week I ducked into the salon to sit for 5 hours under 2 lbs of powdered bleach, returning once more in color and spirit to a dusty, beige blond. I am content, for now, again, in knowing that the stories that my hair holds in its past are much like my soul – they make me who I am, even if you can’t see them. Magic.