I sat on the bar stool on Sunday, warming my hands from the chill that’s crept into November. After minutes of small talk of which I never can quite maintain, my friend looked at me and said, “Ok, tell me, why did you cut your hair? I know you too well to realize it was more than just a haircut.”
Last week, I sat on the bathroom floor and cut lock after lock of browns and golds, after nearly two years of basic trims. Minutes later, I felt lighter, as if I had won some victory, and at the same time an extreme sense of loss.
I’m trying to live with this lady called Change. Some days she’s a seeming tyrant, pulling me along; I’m scuffing my toes as I shuffle, cursing each stone that trips me up. I lag behind like a kid being dragged to the dentist. Other days, she’s a storyteller. Her sweet words clutch my heart till I can’t sit still. I swat her hand away and I run past her, ahead to what she’s promised, leaving her in the dust. She calls after me but I’m too far gone to care. I’m impatient with possibility.
I was talking on the phone to my dad the other afternoon, on the drive between work and school, my thumbs drumming the steering wheel to songs I consistently play on repeat. I don’t have many of these phone conversations and I felt grateful to have a few minutes to hear about his day to day. As we were chatting, I asked a question that felt unexpected, even to myself, “Did I talk a lot as a kid?” He laughed. “We couldn’t keep you quiet. We called you Jabberwocky.”
I went back and reread the poem Jabberwocky by Lewis Carroll and had one of those “What were my parents thinking” moments. In my head I had remembered it being sort of dark. The story is terrifying. Calling your child a monster that gets slain in the middle of the night could be traumatizing, or at the least get you weird looks from anyone who knows the poem.
Some days I don’t know if I’m the monster or the girl. Maybe it speaks to my obsession with the dark and trying to figure it all out, trying to slay whatever voices I can. Slay the insecurity. Slay the struggles that always seem to be one step behind, that foot on the creaking board, that weight I expect to overtake me. Slay those parts of me that I deem unworthy or unattractive or any word that describes that fear of being noticed and then passed by with whispered voices.
I cut my hair and yell, “I’m different. Don’t you see. I’m not that thing you thought and rejected.” I look around at the marbled sink and feel the cold, tiled floor and realize it’s just me. I’m talking to myself.
Once upon a time you thought you’d never cut your hair on the bathroom floor again. I don’t know how the story ends, or if I’ll find myself here again. History tends to repeat itself. I’m learning to accept with compassion that we’re all still becoming. Maybe a part of that means beginning to tolerate the discomfort of this middle space, letting go of my battle with Change and her wild ways. And, maybe it also means, on days like this, embracing my humanity and taking a moment to laugh at the hair on the floor and fact that it’s going to take awhile to grow out again. And, that’s okay. That’s okay.