“You look like such a bad ass right now.”
My tear-streaked, swollen red eyes scrutinized both Maya and myself in the mirrored reflection. In just a matter of minutes, she had taken the one remaining piece of my physical exterior that mattered to me: my long hair. It had to be done. Two days ago, i noticed the excess amount of hair clinging to my wet hands after i shampooed and conditioned my short-but-still-sorta-girly locks for the 2nd time in a week; then, yesterday, i was making softball-sized balls out of the hair that was falling out.
The hair loss wasn’t how i expected it would be. I anticipated that i would be brushing my hair one day, and this huge clump would just fall out of my head and onto the floor, leaving a bald patch on my head and a tug of panicky fear in the pit of my stomach. Instead, the loss was more subtle. I would brush my hair out of my face, and there would be half a dozen strands entwined in between my fingers … or i would get up from bed after reading for an hour, and i would see the entire pillowcase covered with what my head had left behind. The subtlety, while appreciated during these last two days, still managed to make it very clear: the hair had to go. Images of some awful TV show i watched as a child lingered in my head. Stop stalling; you don’t want your hair looking like that Tales From the Crypt narrator – do you, tarah?
Maya, thank you. Thank you for being you. Thank you for intentionally starting with the back of my head, in order to give me time to work up the courage to see myself in a whole new way. Thank you for allowing me to sit in that chair and just openly sob as you gently discarded the eggplant-colored hair that i have been so diligent about keeping long and healthy. Thank you for knowing which minutes needed your silence and which minutes were opportune for light-hearted jokes about winning Sinead O’Connor impersonation contests. Thank you for understanding me enough to know how much my feminine lesbian identity means to me – and therefore not minimizing the situation by saying things that you KNOW would have infuriated me (“It’ll grow back.” “It’s not permanent.” “It’s just hair. It doesn’t change who you are.”). Thank you for cleaning the piles of hair off the floor so that i didn’t have to dwell in my loss, and thank you for gently putting a knit cap on my head afterwards so that i can hide my sickness from the world a little while longer, until i am ready to advertise it.
… cuz I’m not ready.