No, that’s not exactly right. I didn’t cut it. I had Dolores cut it, because she is my hair person. I never know what to call her. Stylist? Dresser? Cutter? I usually just call her Dolores. She’s been cutting my hair for…four years? Maybe more than that.
I tend to be very loyal to my hair person. In some cases it’s been more like inertia than loyalty. Or a bad marriage. Something you want to escape but can’t figure out how.
In L.A. I went to the same person for ten years because at some point we became friends. After that it felt like betrayal to go elsewhere, even though I would come home after nearly every appointment and avoid looking in the mirror.
With Dolores I have found that rare thing, something like true love. She has a small shop in a suburban office/medical park, out of the way and a little hard to find. She does it all—hair color, perms, wigs…I think she even does manicures. But IMHO, Dolores was born to cut hair. She understands hair. Even my hair, which is wavy (not curly) too fine to have any body, and now is beginning to thin.
When I first came to her my hair was short and looked like someone had put a bowl on my head and cut around it. I’d been going to a charming and very expensive Frenchman who fortunately retired before I could summon up the courage to break off the relationship. A friend whose do I admired steered me to Dolores.
She offered me a free consultation, so I went in to see her and consult. I told her that I wanted long hair, like 99 percent of the women in Santa Fe. I wanted a long gray braid hanging down my back. I told her I knew the transition would be painful and frustrating and there would be times when it would look like I’d styled it with an egg beater. And I said if I came in asking her to shave my head, to please try talking me down. That had always been my prior experience of letting my hair grow out.
Dolores just nodded and smiled. So we began to work on my project.
One morning some time later I woke up with long hair.
There was no “in between time” when I hated my hair. There were no days when it would refuse to accommodate my simplest and most polite request. I simply went through about a year and a half of gradually lengthening hairstyles. Each one was different, but each one was attractive in its own way, and the only thing required was a visit to Dolores every eight to ten weeks or so with a couple of (free!) bangs trims in between.
So for the past three or four years I’ve had long hair. Not in a braid down my back, however, since I never got the hang of braiding it myself. But it was good to wear long and straight or long and wavy or pulled back in a twist or in a ponytail with one of my baseball hats when I’d take the dog for a walk.
Then something happened. A bunch of somethings, actually, beginning in January.
My parents totaled their car. My mother was diagnosed with uterine cancer and needed surgery. Meanwhile, my father grows more fragile and forgetful. Starting in February I was either in Atlanta, where they’ve lived since 1964, on a plane going to Atlanta, or on a plane coming home from Atlanta. Starting in May I spent six weeks moving them out of their home and into a retirement community closer to my brother and me. It was wrenching.
Then the septic system in our 60-year-old house died of old age and we had to fork out 9 grand for a new one. For two weeks I watched a backhoe and men with shovels demolish our front yard. At the same time, I lost my literary agent, my editor and my publisher in the space of two days. The manuscript I thought was sold, is not.
I began to lie in bed in the mornings and cry. Sit at my computer in the afternoons and stare at the blank screen. I felt as if I was running a marathon through warm jello. I felt unable to make a decision, to accomplish anything at all.
Then one day in the checkout line at the grocery story I was flipping through a magazine when I saw a photo of Jane Lynch. With her cute short hair that looked like all she had to do in the morning was give her head a little shake. Which may or may not be true, but at that moment I realized that I needed to be in control of one thing in my life, and my hair was pretty much the only option. I took the picture to Dolores.
She looked at it. She smiled. She nodded.
“Time for a change?” she said.
I wish I could say that I now look like Jane Lynch. I wish I could say that all the other problems have been resolved. But of course, if they had, there would be new ones to replace them, for such is life.
This much I can say. I’m in control of my hair.
When I get up in the morning I just run a comb through it (or my fingers if I can’t find my comb) and I’m ready to face the world.