No flair for hair
The gene people possess to make them care about having “perfect” hair? I’m missing it. Like many folks, the battle with my tresses is ongoing. I usually fluctuate between embracing my curls for the wild mass they are and wanting to just shave my head and be done with it. Getting to a point of acceptance has really only come now in my early thirties, and that’s because I’m tired.
Since the summer heat blasted in earlier this year, I’ve been rocking what can only be described as the mom ’tail. Like my dark eyes and slightly crooked nose, the ponytail — a haphazard pulling-back of my hair — has just become part of my identity.
It wasn’t always this way. Back in high school, I would wake up early to straighten my wavy locks into something like the smooth styles other girls wore. I was fine with devoting a half hour to this cause, however futile. By lunchtime, whatever sophistication I’d achieved would be back to a frizzy halo that would demand — you guessed it — a ponytail or bun.
Here’s the thing: I’m hot. I’m hot all the time. Where others might carry a sweater in case of a chill, I want to stuff a tank top in my purse just in case my destination turns out to be a furnace. I start the day with good intentions, but inevitably wind up scraping my hair back before I’ve even left the house. I can’t stand it on my neck. I point to my toddler, who insists daily on wrestling me while I try to pull a clean shirt over his head. By the time I’ve gotten him dressed and located my missing car keys, I’m sweating. A sweaty Meg is an unhappy Meg. I don’t look particularly cute with my hair back, but I’ve accepted this as another universal truth. Also, I’m a married 31-year-old who just hopes she doesn’t look like she got dressed in a black-out. Who am I trying to impress?
Once upon a time, that would have been everyone. In an example of letting someone else’s silly opinion get under my skin, I once had a boyfriend say that he preferred women to have either long, straight hair or short, curly hair. As I had shoulder-length wavy hair, I took this as a slight. I was all of 20 years old, and that comment stung. So I chopped it all off, hoping my newly-short curls would work magic on a broken relationship.
But it didn’t. And you know what? I hate having short hair.
Of the well-dressed women in my family, I’m arguably the most unkempt. My mom doesn’t leave the house without her bold necklaces and earrings, and neither does my sister. Mom as well as my grandmothers keep appointments to have their hair done regularly and see the same stylists — friends, really — to catch up during their usual cut-and-color. When my parents briefly moved up north, Mom still made the hour-long drive back to her regular salon.
Me? I trim my hair only when it starts making me crazy. Usually when even the mom ’tail is getting too long. I went last weekend to see Diane, our longtime family hairdresser — the same woman who has been cutting my locks since elementary school and also styled me on my wedding day. Diane gave me my first bob in fifth grade, and soon I’ll have to seek her advice on covering my grays. The circle of life, I guess. Unlike Diane’s regulars, I tend to pop up randomly. I don’t often go in for a haircut until the day I’ve decided I need one. Sometimes I think about the men and women with standing appointments and envy them a little. That’s a level of adulthood I have not yet unlocked. I just can’t muster up the enthusiasm to fuss much beyond a daily washing, and I’m not sure when — or if — I’ll ever change.
Family photographs offer endless insights. Looking at pictures of me in the months before my son was born, for example, you’ll notice a drastic difference after I abruptly decided to chop my hair to the shortest length it’s ever been. (Apparently I forgot the ex-boyfriend ordeal. That day in the salon chair, anyway.)
I thought it would be easier to care for. And though I couldn’t yet predict how drastically my life would change, I did have a vague understanding that, as a new parent, “easier” would be better.
But was it? With shorn locks, not even bobby pins could keep my layered hair out of my face. I was unable to keep my hair up for months. I didn’t even look like myself. Rookie mistake, friends. Trust me: it won’t happen again. I have enough hair ties to be sure of that.