Yesterday I got my hair done, for the first time in months. It was starting to look a little unkempt, so I decided it was time to take action. I had broken up with my former stylist–whom I’d been seeing for over a decade–back in May, when we moved. Lee said I was starting to look a little stripey on top, where my roots were growing out. He thought it might be time to, in his words, “do something about that hair.”
So when I found a new woman–who is very nice, and eager to please–and she used words and phrases I didn’t really understand: toner, glaze, low-lights, texture, I just didn’t pay all that much attention. She’s the pro; it’s HER job to understand all that stuff, and, as she said, to make me look beautiful.
Her beautiful locks should have been a tip-off; they were short, curly, pulled back with a scarf, a beautiful shade of teal. It’s not like I ignored the warning bells. I was perfectly clear, when she asked what I was thinking in terms of color. “Well, probably not like yours. It’s lovely, but teal doesn’t really go with my skin, you know?”
She chuckled. And that was that. With a trusting shrug, I sat back in the chair and went to my happy place–that place in my mind where I have a headful of beautiful, well-behaved hair that curls when I want it to, but never frizzes, that flatters but never overwhelms, long enough to pull back, but short enough not to weigh me down.
What I have now is . . . not all that. What I have, now that I’ve gotten my hair carefully (expensively!) colored, is, somehow, an absence of color. It’s brown, I guess, but it’s not brunette, or chestnut, or auburn. It’s not golden-brown, or honey-brown, or chocolate-brown. It’s not lustrous, or rich, or deep or shiny. It’s worse, even, than mousy brown; it’s no-color. It’s that shade of grayish-brown that you don’t even notice, like a worn-out wooden fence, or dead vines in the fall after all the leaves have fallen off.
I feel like I’ve aged overnight (and it’s not just my imagination–the first thing Delaney said when she saw it was that it made me look so much older). It’s mildly interesting, I suppose, if I’m looking for some sort of lesson or silver lining (not that it’s a cloud of any significance–I’ll just go back and get it re-colored as soon as I have time–I recognize this isn’t really a real problem). What’s interesting, I mean, is how much difference something like a hair cut/color can make in how I feel. This hair color makes me feel invisible, and that’s not a feeling I like. I feel tentative and almost timid; I’m having to remind myself not to slump.
I don’t want to disappear into the background. I want to stand up straight, square my shoulders, and wade into the action. And I don’t care what color I have to dye my hair to make that happen.
“Do not go gentle into that good night . . .”*
No, I don’t suppose I will.
*Apologies to Dylan Thomas–I know he wasn’t actually talking about an especially bad hair day.