I can honestly say i never anticipated the day when i would see a line of wigs in my closet. Earlier this week, my amazing hair stylist, Melinda (owner of Switchblade Salon) actually spent time on her day off to meet me at United Beauty Supply Hair & Wigs and help me with the selection process. This was not something i was looking forward to. Less than two weeks ago, Melinda cut most of my hair off, and we donated it to Locks of Love – better to put that eggplant-purple mane to use creating a wig for a cancer kid in need, rather than watch it fall to my bathroom floor in clumps as the chemo treatments progress. According to my readings, my hair is supposed to start falling out this week or next. Every day, i wait for today to be the day. I avoid washing it. I avoid brushing it. Today was the first day since my hair cut that i actually had the nerve to put a blow dryer and a flat iron to it, and several times i caught myself holding my breath as i was trying to style it. (“Seven pieces you can flat iron, tarah – just seven. After seven, leave your hair alone … that is, if you still have it.”) This shouldn’t be a big deal, right? It’s hair. So what if my hair is the shortest it’s ever been? It’s just hair … not a huge deal in the grand scheme of things … yet i cried the whole time Melinda cut it all off, and I cry when i notice it’s so greasy that i have no choice but to wash it that day, and i cried today when i finished my seventh strip of flat ironing and saw a piece i wasn’t happy with but wasn’t “allowed” to touch.
The United Beauty Supply store at 7th Street and Bethany Home Road deserve a shout-out, for they helped make an awkward, self-conscious experience a bit less miserable. In fact, there was even a time i found myself laughing, after Yaneika pulled down this one long, wavy, blue-and-black-colored wig for me, and i realized that wig could be my ticket to a Shakira impersonation for Halloween, 2016. (I tried on a Beyonce-looking wig, too, but let’s face it: me trying to pull off Beyonce for Halloween would be as pitiful as Avril Lavigne trying to pull off Whitney Houston’s rendition of “I Will Always Love You.”) I tried on a total of 11 wigs, Yaneika and Melinda remained patient with me the whole time, and i walked out of that store not as an embarrassed cancer victim but as a secure cancer survivor who just found another way to plan ahead for one of my treatment’s most common side effect. People routinely make fun of me for my ongoing need to plan, to organize, to write lists, and to color-coordinate … but there is (for me, at least) both power and comfort in doing this, and having wigs waiting for me in the closet on that day when my hair starts falling to the floor in patches will help make that day a little less traumatic. I mean, i’m still going to cry about it – and then get mad at myself for crying – but at least i’ll be able to take comfort in knowing that i planned ahead.
(And i’m not gonna lie … the curly-haired wig i did end up purchasing is SUPER bouncy and crazy awesome in an old-school-big-hair-is-in-again kind of way, and i’m kind of excited about busting out some wild-looking hair on random days when i am feeling a little extra spunky.)