Two days ago, I cut off my hair.
Well, actually, the nice woman who cuts my hair cut off my hair.
I do this occasionally.
For a very long time, I had long straight-ish hair. My hair isn't all that straight, really; it has a tendency to get wavy, and I have the darndest ringlets behind my ears and at the nape of my neck. But back in the day, it was long and all one length, mostly because that made it easier to put it up in a big heavy bun when I was dancing.
Then, it became habit.
My hair length wandered between mid-back and waist.
I never thought too much about how personal identity is wrapped up in one's hair until the summer I spent too much time drying my hair in the sun and inadvertently became strawberry blonde. Someone referred to me as a blonde, and I was stunned because I've always been so militantly brunette.
In 1983, I broke up with my long-time boyfriend.
I promptly, and I mean within days, cut off 2 feet of hair. For the first time ever, I had a fringe and layers. It was as though I'd shed something I no longer needed.
No one recognized me.
Before it could become habit, I had the nice woman who cut my hair in those days shave the sides of my head, leaving the top long. I could put my hair into a mohawk if I wanted to.
Sometimes I did. And I'd put on radical makeup and go nightclubbing.
It was the '80s after all.
I got bored and let my hair grow back. For a bit, I sort of had a mullet.
And then I got a bob.
Then, I was supposed to get married. It was long again, and I got it permed.
I looked like a brunette cotton ball. Fortunately, my hair grows very fast and it was manageable again by wedding day.
Then suddenly, my hair was back halfway down my back.
And so it went.
Most recently, I'd let it grow longer again. The fringe remains, and it has become habit, necessary habit and it's better than Botox. Three years ago, it was a longish pageboy, and for the last year or so, it's been stylishly drifting past my shoulders.
I'd been squinting at it over the summer, and thinking that it was time to cut it off. I haven't worn it in a bob since about 2002.
When I sat down in the chair on Saturday, the nice woman who cuts my hair asked what I wanted.
"Cut it all off," I told her.
"Like this," I told her, showing her my driver's license.
"Off," I said.
It is soft and fluffy and kind of cute. I can't decide if I look older or younger, but somehow I look less tired, and more like I want to smile. Like I've shed something I no longer needed.
Go listen to some good music: "Hair" from the album Hair: Original Broadway Cast