Not the single braid of grad school, yet the simplicity should give you an idea.
I’m getting ready to take Malcolm out for his morning walk. Without thinking I pull my hair into a ponytail with a single braid. When I look in the mirror I realize that I haven’t done that in a while, not since my first year of graduate school.
In fact, I realize it’s been exactly 6 years to the day since I put it in three braids, handed two of my good friends a pair of scissors each, took a pair myself and cut it.
On that day, I was exhausted, too exhausted to fool with my hair. The entire summer had consisted of me showering, washing and/or conditioning it, running the wide tooth comb through it get the conditioner to the ends, then getting out of the shower and brushing it, grabbing my hair at the nape of my neck (or the middle of the back of my head), quickly twisting it into a bun and securing it with several hair pins.
If it felt too plain, I would put on a headband that coordinated with my outfit.
Yet every afternoon I rode the bus home from campus to my apartment nearby, and I was exhausted. I would loosen the bun just a little, by removing a couple of the hairpins. I would feel grateful that I’d made it through another class, that most of the students had learned something, that many of them had enjoyed themselves while doing it and that only a few had left early at the break. I would wonder at how I pulled it off, because I was exhausted.
Every day, that is on those days that I couldn’t get away with not getting dressed at all, I would put on a dress. Why because you either stepped into them, or you easily pulled them over your head, and you didn’t have to figure out what matched or didn’t. It was just one piece of clothing and your body was appropriately covered. I was too tired to fool with clothing.
Yet that still didn’t get me enough energy to appropriately manage my head of hair. This wonderful head of hair that I’d learned to conquer in the heat and humidity of TX, OK and NY. This head of hair that I had managed to keep healthy despite the cold, snow and craziness of water too soft or too hard in OK and NY.
I had moved to curly girl mecca, MI where there were only a few weeks of humidity spread out in days here and there, and cool or cold weather nine months out of the year. Yet now, here in Michigan, was where I was too exhausted to fool with my own hair. So every day, I’d twist it into a bun, and when I got a headache midway through the day from the hairpins or too tight elastics, I’d pull it down, put it in a ponytail and braid it in a single braid.
This is how it was the day I decided that a bun for 3 months straight was unacceptable and the hair had to go. It was no longer going to defeat me every morning. I had cut my hair before; not nearly as short as I was thinking of doing this time, yet still I knew it was needed. Dealing with my hair was exhausting, and it was making me feel like dealing with my life was exhausting.
I had to start over and my hair had to start over with me. So I called two of my friends over to my apartment. told them I had more dinner than I could handle, which I did, I always did. Then over dinner we started chatting and I told them I was going to cut my hair.
They gaffed. NO it was so healthy. Why did I want to cut it. Are you sure? Why don’t you think about it? Then my gurlfriend looked in my eyes and said to our guy friend, “She’s already made up her mind; she just wants to know if we’ll help.”
She was right, of course. So we brushed out my hair. She parted it in three sections. We braided it into three braids. I grabbed three pairs of scissors. Everyone had a braid and a pair of scissors. I counted to three and we each cut my hair at the base of the braid. Then the wine started. We took a few pictures; the summer day turned to dusk and then turned to night.
The night of the big chop. This was taken on my balcony right after we cut my hair.
In the light of morning, I was excited and held no regrets. In fact I went shorter. I grabbed a pair of clippers I had (cutting hair was a skill I’d picked up from my dad, nothing fancy just low and neat) and cut off another inch or so.
In the shower, I put way too much shampoo in my hand for my new hair. Then, even when thinking i had adjusted, I still put too much conditioner in my hand for my new hair. When I got out of the shower and looked in the mirror I was stoked! I wasn’t exhausted at all.
This was what it looked like (while studying/editing) after I cleaned it up with a pair of clippers the next day.
This morning as I walked the dog I felt the change of seasons in the air. I had a sweatshirt and jeans and my hair was in a ponytail with a single braid. I defend my dissertation today and I have more in my life now (a dog, a husband, a business, 4 classes and sets of students, a car, etc) than I did then, yet neither my hair, nor my life, exhausts me as much as that first summer (first summer of the Ph.D., first class).
I haven’t even thought of cutting my hair this summer, and I think it’s only been in a bun for about a week or 2 total days this summer. That’s the thing about seasons, what you need during one you don’t during another.
Me & the hubs at a fundraiser last week, the total length is back and the chic ponytail has made a return.
What about you? Is there something that you should let go of in your life that you’re holding on to as the seasons change for you? Or maybe you shaved a beard, grew a mustache, or cut your hair, or colored your hair too? Share with me in the comments how you have marked the beginning or end of seasons in your life. Click here to follow me on twitter.