Thursday, May 14, 2009

A Certain Slant of Loss

It's funny how we often define ourselves externally. I watch my students parade by, all looking exactly like the friend behind and beside. These same students are the ones who claim they want to express themselves and be unique and pierce this or tattoo that or wear these rags or those name brands. And they claim they want to do it in order to be different. I think we are many times responsible for creating the box others place us in.

I am no different, I suppose. I am conscious about the name brands I don't buy. I choose fashions that are more timeless in nature so that I don't have to shop for new clothes until the old ones are bare thin. I gravitate toward earth or jewel tones and seek modest lengths and cuts. I wear fabrics I love to run my hands along. And my hair is long. Very long.

Or was.

It's funny how we often define ourselves externally. The graceful sweep of amber-burnt mahogany created a mask of sorts. The sedate lines hid my more exuberant self; the uncut, unbanged, unlayered edges hid the more modern straight-edge parts. I liked the person people thought they saw because it always reflected their innermost thoughts. I learned more about how they thought in how they chose to see me: hippy or traditionalist, tree-hugging liberal or cowed fundamentalist -- it didn't really matter, because I was a mirror instead of a painting. As a writer, I've always been more interested in how people think, what they see, how they perceive the world around them. Observation is key to capturing details.

Fourteen inches to Locks of Love. But my stylist didn't stop there. She clipped and snipped, razored and scissored. When she finished, I didn't know how to turn my head anymore. Or wash my hair. Or style it. My head felt foreign, a different shore I'd only landed on, my newly shorn locks an exotic species I didn't have a language for. I've never had short hair before.

It's been a month. More than just a loss of hair, I feel a loss of identity or continuity or nuances of self. I'm not sure -- I can't quite place the emotion. I'm still the same, but I feel differently, like I'm trying to catch the scent of home. Like I'm trying to recognize the reflection in the mirror.


Anthony said...

But but but I want to ~see~ the haircut now!

valbrussell said...

I've a short do. The liberation of not having to brush, braid, shampoo, condition, style, clip, hold in the wind, pull from under me in my sleep etc is fabulous. :)

I agree with your slant on clothing and youth. With teens it's also a group separation from adults cloaked as individuality. Sometimes I think the fashion industry is complicit in promoting conformity. Nothing makes money like a fad or trend.

laughingwolf said...

yeah alex, i imagine the shock is like when i had my son give me a buzz cut on the hair i had in a foot long ponytail some two years ago... now its almost as long again

yours will be too, and it was for a good cause :)

Lady Glamis said...

I'm currently growing my hair out for Locks Of Love. I've had it very long before and chopped it off, but I didn't donate it. Now I really want to.

This is a beautiful post. You have an excellent point about how we create our own boxes. I hide behind many things. It's always hard to peek out into the truth of who we really are.

Peter said...

Wow! I had no idea! Can't imagine you with short hair.. but I'm sure it looks great :)

Alex Moore said...

@anthony: oh but you'd have to meet me at a writing conference then...

@valbrussell: i feel like i've actually got to *think* about my hair now -- I would just wash & run before :) And what insight you have: the fashion industry is certainly complicit -- tho, on the other hand, if we weren't such sheeple, we would put the industry out of business!!

@lw: I keep telling myself that! and that it'll grow back. after all, you're living proof. Are you going to get it cut again?

@Lady Glamis: I'm glad you're donating your hair to LOL! Sisters in crime:)

Interesting comment. Whenever I notice a flaw in someone, I always wonder if I've the same ... if I've hidden that element from myself somehow. It makes me more self-conscious, more aware. More compassionate, maybe.

@Peter: it's been hard :) isn't it funny how we associate people w/ certain things? like: how am I going to envision you land-bound?

inlandempiregirl said...

How wonderful that you cut your hair for Locks for Love and now I will say again that I love your new look. You seem to have figured out the styling and everything.