No flair for hair

Maryland Independent - - Classified - Twit­ter: @right­meg

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.

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