About every five years, I remove several inches of my hair from my head. It just happened again!
I have always considered myself to be a “long-hair” person, having worn long locks until I had the courage to try a shorter cut at age 22. But now, I find that I am struck by a sudden, passionate need to chop off my hair roughly every five years. I can look back on my life and track the emotional landscape that surrounded these haircuts: The College Graduate (age 22), The Anxious Young Adult in Therapy (age 26), The Woman Grieving a Miscarriage (age 29), The Mother of the Sticky-Fingered Baby (age 33). And now, at age 38 ½, I’ve done it again, with a ridiculous amount of angst over an upcoming landmark: The Twentieth High School Reunion.
This reunion has been hovering in my mind for about a year and, embarrassingly, causing me to wonder constantly about my hair. My train of thought always ends up something like this:
Should I keep my hair long?
Should I cut it short?
Should I cut it really, really short?
What would it mean if I cut my hair?
What kind of person am I?
How am I different or the same as when I was in high school?
What does it mean to be 38 ½?
What does it mean to age?
Am I pleased with the way I am aging?
Who am I?
How can I be my most authentic self?
Does my most authentic self have short hair or long hair?
Does any of this really matter?
Gosh, am I really this vain?
Why am I spending so much time thinking about my hair?
You can see how it took me a little while to actually cut my hair.
The funny thing is, I’m not especially worried about the reunion. I don’t want to impress anyone in particular or lose twenty pounds or anything like that. When I talked with my spiritual director about this (yes, it’s true, I had a good long talk with my spiritual director about my HAIR), she asked me, “How do you want be perceived by people at the reunion?” And, mostly, I realized that I just want to be myself and have some good conversations.
Herein lies the difficultly with reunions. In this artificially constructed situation, one has a few hours to connect with old friends and acquaintances, to present oneself as an older (and perhaps wiser) person, and hope to come across accurately. I suppose my most fervent desire for this situation is to be 100% Ann Boyd, but how can I ensure this? I cannot. No wonder most people either drink themselves silly at reunions or skip the whole thing altogether.
The final haircut decision came about suddenly, and with no real answers to the big questions. Last week, I just couldn’t take the long hair anymore. It wasn’t a conscious choice of being “short hair Ann” or “long hair Ann.” It felt more like being 41-weeks pregnant, that feeling of “get this baby (or, in this case, hair) disconnected from my body right now!” Danielle, my beloved hair stylist, performed the task expertly, taking cues from some of the pictures I showed her. My new ‘do does feel like 100% Ann Boyd — right now, at age 38 ½. I’m glad I like it, because it’s going to take awhile to grow out again!