Que Sera Sera
Yesterday I stopped at a salon and had my hair cut. I know, it seemed odd to me when I did it. I have hair on my head, but it is quite thin, baby fine, and short. I chopped off my chin-length bob when the hair began to fall out with such speed that I feared I might walk out of my home with hair and return bald. I was not unhappy with my work at the time because I covered it with a wig, but the wigs make me want to scratch my head all day. When I get home I drag the wig off and rub my scalp at all the little pressure points. My hair stands up in every direction. I can see hairs that have grown, hairs that have not, and, blessedly, hairs that have grown in. It looks more and more haphazard as some of the hairs have curl to them. Some remain stick straight. There is very little gray hair in the mix, but my new natural hair color seems darker than it ever was before. Light brown in places, darker in others.
The hairdresser, Mariam, has opened a new shop where a men’s salon used to be. She and her granddaughter were alone when I entered. I appreciated not having a big audience for the “reveal” of my wig-flattened hair. Mariam urged me into a chair and sprayed my head with water. She asked me about my cancer, my treatment, my hair. The last part of the conversation felt like a conversation about a person not present in the room. “She is thin?” Mariam asked or commented.
I nodded. “Always has been.”
“”You may not know her in six months,” Mariam predicted. “I know hair that grow back thick like mine after chemo.”
I admired her thick brown hair. “My hair has never been that thick.” I smiled.
It did not take long for Mariam to snip my hair into some semblance of a style. She blow dried it in about two minutes. The brush she used barely caught at the one inch strands, but, following her efforts, my hair appeared thicker. I smiled, but I was missing my old hair. My new hair makes me look old. It is far too masculine for my comfort. I used to wake up in the morning and my hair looked the same as it did when I went to sleep. Now I look in the mirror every morning at a cloud of hair that stands up in no particular style. I wash it once a week and finger comb it the rest of the week with wet fingers. I still pluck far too many strands of it off of my pillows and clothes to handle it more than that. It is like the rest of me: a little too fragile. Imagine having to eat every meal, including those consumed on the run, from your grandma’s best china. It makes me pause. Instead of feeling aerodynamic, I feel weighted down.
Both of us studied my reflection. I got up, managed to close my finger in a drawer on the counter, and grabbed my purse. Fifteen dollars seemed like a great deal of money for what took place, but Mariam gave me a card. If she cuts my hair four more times, then the sixth haircut will be free. I would like to think that by then my hair will be recovered, even if my hair looks nothing like it used to look.
My eyelashes are back. My eyebrows are returning. Cancer is getting farther and farther behind me even though its specter is never that far away.
This past week my boss made a joke about how I and the chair on which I sat fit beneath my winter coat. I went home and hunted through my closets until I found a winter coat I wore more than ten years ago. It fits again. After I got my hair cut, I drove home and then decided to go out again (minus the wig) to buy a few clothes in a size much smaller than I have been wearing. I may long for what used to be, but I am moving forward into what will be.