On Friday I told my colleague Marge that I was "going to the country" on Saturday, and she knew that meant I would be getting a haircut. Kelly, who has been cutting my hair for about twenty years, used to work a two-minute walk from my office, and cut my hair during my lunch hour. But when she started a family, she began to work from home, and I followed her there. Now, instead of a lunch hour visit, it takes the better part of a day to get my hair cut.
On the way home Saturday, I got to thinking about my hair. When I was a child, I had thick pigtails.. I remember the day we cut them off. It was summer, and we were visiting my Aunt Ruth in Buffalo. She and my mother took a scissors and chopped off the braids, ribbons and all. It was more traumatic for my mother than for me, and she kept those braids in an envelope in our dining room buffet for years, maybe until she died.
After that I had to get a real haircut, and Mother took me to her hairdresser—his name was Phil. What I remember about Phil was his regular comments on how thick my hair was. He was always taking thinning shears, and leaving piles of my thick dark brown hair on the floor.
My hair was fairly long during college, and I got sick of it. So when I went to Europe during the summer of my junior year, I had it all cut off in Montreal before embarking on the long journey across the Atlantic. My friend Joanie stood by me while it happened. In fact, I think it was her short hair that inspired me. I figured it would grow back by the time I got home.
The next important milestone in my hair history was when I became pregnant. Peter and I were on vacation in California. I was brushing my hair over the sink in the Hotel Miyako in San Francisco, and it was falling out in bunches. Thus, thanks to the raging hormones of pregnancy, my era of thick hair ended.
In the summer of '92, I splurged on a $100 life-changing haircut in Paris at the Galleries Lafayette. I remember Peter treated himself to a CD of Edith Piaf at a fraction of the hair cut cost, thinking he deserved at least that. He, himself, had no interest in a Parisian haircut.
That haircut gave me a very different look, and I ran to see Kelly as soon as I got back so she could see it and do her best to copy it on my next visit. And that's how my hair has looked ever since.
Except, my hair is now gray. And that's OK with me. I still feel good when I come home from the country, and Peter greets me with his usual refrain, "You look beautiful."