Sunday, May 6, 2018


Since execution of the 40/40 list three years ago, I now mark time differently than I did before. I observe life events as anniversaries more readily than I have in the past. The things I honor are obscure but full of meaning—equal parts celebrating the every day moments that become monumental over time while acknowledging how far I have come.

This weekend marks the first anniversary of me chopping off my hair. It was such a change for me that for the first thirteen weeks, I documented the rate of hair growth. I wanted to get a sense of what this new cut would look like in all its stages of growth and how long I could get by without a trim. I was surprised that it took more than three months before the second cut was imperative.

I've thought a lot about this hair cut over the year. I have learned six things:

1. I have a cowlick I didn't know I had. It's in the back. Northeast of my left ear. It's more prominent when my hair grows out. It is giving me the practice in letting go of seeking perfection. Some days no amount of goop will tame it, and I have come to embrace of that rascally element. Plus, I can't really see it unless I turn my head to the right, so I don't do that much.

2. With this haircut, I can no longer where my beloved hats. This realization stung at first. My hat collection and my insistence on wearing hats throughout adulthood and against the fashion grain were two ways I set myself apart from my peers and asserted confidence in inhabiting my own particular skin. With time, I have accepted that my hat wearing days are over, and I am closing that chapter by liquidating some of my collection. When it's time for wearing hair accessories again, I'm going to keep my eye out for cool headbands and fascinators. Maybe those will be the new thing I use to set myself apart. Or maybe I'll stick with being really confident in who I have become. See #3 and #4.

It's a little bit like when I discovered that I'd outgrown my beloved Notting Hill DVD from the early 2000s and put it in the donation pile. I was incredulous at first, but it felt right to let it go. Same with the hats.

3. I am no longer photogenic. Longer hair that framed my face served me well in photographs throughout my life. I regularly took good ID photos, which was so weird. I believed most of the time that I looked better in photos than I did in real life. It's taken some adjustment, but now I am confident living with the reverse situation. I like that I feel confident in real time. 

4. This haircut is the physical representation of a lot of mental, emotional, and spiritual transformations that have taken place in the past three-plus years. When I look in the mirror, I remember how I am not the same woman. I am sturdier, more confident, less scared and reactionary than I have been in the past. I know that I have put in the time to grow as a person, mother, and writer.

5. My already low-maintenance morning routine requires even less time, which gives me more time to sleep, talk and laugh with my daughter, and do light housekeeping before work.

6. Hair is serious business. I am the happiest and healthiest I have ever been. It is a major achievement in being human to reach a state when one's interior and exterior match.

Cowlick mentioned in #1
photo: CJM

Easter morning, fresh cut, goop applied

Three weeks later, fringe beginning to show at left temple
also: doing what I love, talking about writing at a young authors conference

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