**Reader’s Advisory: If you are (a) sick of hearing about my hair, (b) uncomfortable with swearing, or (c) my mother, STOP!!!. Click the little X in the corner and go have a cup of tea!!!**
Important Facts About My Hair:
1) I was 23 before I scissors ever touched my hair. (Well…except the one time I was 4 and I purposely put gum in my hair so I could cut myself some bangs. But that is a story for another day. Here is proof of the bangs in what is still my favorite picture of myself!)
2) My mother and father believe women should not cut their hair based on some biblical writings in the New Testament (1 Corinthians 11). I’ve known this my whole life…meaning I don’t remember ever NOT knowing this. I also never got it. I couldn’t figure out how that worked and was troubled by all the nice church of Christ ladies who were going to hell because they didn’t know about these verses. (Sounds just like me doesn’t it!?) However, I totally respect my parents beliefs and am impressed that my mother has practiced this for almost 50 years. I however don’t consider this a salvation issue. (That’s Christianese for “stuff you’ll go to hell over”)
3) I have a rockin’ head of hair. It has been my shield, my glory, the envy of others, the bane of my existence, and my one beauty (a Little Women reference for my fellow bibliophiles). And between my parents beliefs and my need for security, my hair has been a source of vanity, stress, and comfort through the years.
4) Two weeks ago I cut my hair shorter than it has ever been in my life. I’ve been working up to this haircut for a very long time. A VERY long time. Since cutting it I have been thinking about a moment in time that, though years in the past, gave me the courage to cut my hair…and a whole lot more.
Once upon a time…
I loved and was loved by a tall, funny, beautiful artist. I loved him fiercely and deeply. In return he loved me with abandon and without condition. I was 29 years old and had NEVER been loved unconditionally by anyone. I was a terrified, uptight, shame-riddled women, being loved in a way that I could not wrap my head around. From the start our love was burdened with our different baggage. Mine a suitcase of overly conservative, religious upbringing and unresolved childhood trauma. His a duffel bag carrying his scars and wounds from the wife of his youth and a family history that left holes where love should have been.
One day as we sat together I said “Someday I am going to cut my hair really short. I mean…like Halle Berry short.” I threw it at him like a threat…a challenge. I expected him to disdain the idea and tell me that he loved my hair. But in doing so I would be free to judge his love for me. It was lose lose all the way around. It would have been an unfair task for a lesser man. But the Sweet Warrior rose to the challenge.
He smiled, let his eyes wander over my hair, then looked me in the eyes. He waited.
“What?” I shot back in response to his silence.
He softly said through a teasing chuckle, “What are you waiting for Leah?”
I was rattled. He’d done what he did so often. Answered my insecurity with a question. He easily handed me back my own fear and with a tilt of his head made me see the absurdity. But not being quite ready to deal with it honestly, I hastily spewed a stream of consciousness “I don’t think I could pull of a short short haircut with my fat face. Maybe when I’m thinner. It’s not like I want to look like a boy for God’s sake.”
I didn’t miss a beat and without taking a breath continued, “My mother would hate it. She’d probably tell me that I was going to hell or that she was disappointed or that she hated it.”
Still he waited.
“And anyway, my hair is my only good feature. It’s really the only beautiful thing about me.”
When I finally took a breath, I could see that he was done waiting. He tipped my chin to him and said, “You will looked beautiful with your short short haircut. You know why?”
All I could do was shake my head side to side and blink back the tears in my dark eyes.
“Because you ARE beautiful. Your hair is beautiful…yes. But it is NOT your only beauty. YOU are beautiful. You are BEAUTIFUL. And when you have short short hair,” he paused to ruffle his then chin length hair, “shorter than mine, you will STILL be pure beauty. You will pull it off because you are sassy, funny, kind, and the inside of you is as beautiful as the outside. Your short hair will be beautiful. You will be every inch the woman you are now. Your smile will still be beautiful. Your eyes will still sparkle beautifully. Your lips will still be juicy and beautiful. Your curves will still be sexy and beautiful. You will still be you. Beautiful. The difference will be you’ll have short hair.”
I did that cry-laugh thing that comes when a woman is balancing the wonder of being loved against the weight of having her thoughts of herself challenged. I smiled. A big smile of love that welled up from an over-flowing heart. The smile that would sometimes make this man of mine raise his hand to his heart and pretend to faint. He kissed my forehead.
“As for your mother,” he paused for a long moment and smiled mischievously, ” Fuck her.”
This made me laugh wildly and what followed was, to the best of my recollection, some of the best kissing ever known in the history of kissing.