Haircuts and Anniversaries

I have a haircut coming up with Bledi-with-Scizzors. Bledi has been my hairstylist for at least fourteen years now, which is ridiculous. By now he owns the salon, and I’ve had three jobs since we met at Starbucks. Also by now we’re comfortable enough with each other that sometimes he will tell me what he thinks I should have done to my hair, and I will tell him I don’t care what he thinks or if it’s stylish, I just want long hair. But sometimes I get bored with the long hair (recently, I just haven’t had the patience to dry it–or the time, because we moved and my commute in the morning is 15 minutes longer). And so, when contemplating my upcoming haircut, I thought, “I think it’s time to get my occasional bob.”

Also because it’s October. If I ever get a bob haircut, it’s in October. There are two reasons for this: 1) By October it’s cold enough here I don’t feel the need to pull my hair off my neck in a ponytail; while I like to braid my hair in the summer. 2) October (appropriately, as it is Breast Cancer Awareness Month) is when I was diagnosed with breast cancer, and I had my hair cut in a bob to take an incremental psychological step toward readiness for shaving my head for chemo. Then I didn’t end up needing chemo, but sometimes I still get my hair lopped off in October.

2008 cancer haircut

I was thinking about this the other week, which is why I suddenly remembered that today is the tenth–tenth–anniversary of my cancer diagnosis. I don’t often talk about my cancer because honestly, most of the time I feel like a “fake” cancer survivor, since, at the end of the day, it wasn’t really that bad for me. I had surgery and radiation, but no chemo. I had to take a hormone suppressant which gave me migraines with which I still struggle. I went back and read the relevant blogposts from my Original Blog and discovered that at the time, I really was pretty freaked out and it was a tough process emotionally–but it also was a pretty quick one, relatively speaking, and I had some amazing support around me.

Meanwhile, I have a friend who’s still trying to recover after a year of harrowing treatment, and another friend who has had cancers of various types at least 11 times. (I’ve probably lost count, I’m ashamed to say. It may have been more, at this point–but I hope not.) Also another friend was diagnosed within the last year; her diagnosis sounded really similar to mine, but she does need chemo, and she has a husband and two little boys and the chemo is doing a number on her. Stories like these brave women’s make me sad, and also make me uncomfortable about publicly celebrating the fact that I have basically been cancer free since they cut it out of me, and officially so for five years now.

On the other hand–I’ve been cancer free since they cut it out of me, and that’s ten years. And while I don’t understand why the above, and other, friends of mine haven’t gotten through their diagnoses as easily as I was able to get through mine, and while it would be ungracious of me (particularly since I had nothing to do with it) to brag about it, it would also be ungrateful of me not to note and celebrate it. I don’t take my cancer-freedom for granted. I know I could get it again. But I haven’t yet, and I’m deeply thankful. And so, in honor of my diagnosis and celebration of my current freedom from it, I’ll be pampering myself next Friday–and getting a haircut.

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The Haircut

Family Friday

It’s official. I am married to the perfect man. Or at least, as perfect as they get this side of . . . the Other Side.

This week I finally booked a haircut. I think the last one I got was at the end of February, and the reason for this is, as I have described before, that I also have the perfect hair stylist. It’s just that I can’t afford him. So I go to the salon twice a year for to have my locks lopped–and the rest of the time my hair gets longer and longer and the ends get splittier and splittier, and the intake staff forget who I am and that my surname changed a year and a half ago.

As I have also described before, this summer, my hair has been falling out. I was beginning to wonder if a bob wouldn’t be a good way to give the illusion of more volume in the back, where I’m losing the most of it. I do get intermittent bob haircuts every few years, but I’ve been enjoying my long hair lately, and besides, my Paul has some definite Opinions, including some very definite Opinions about bob haircuts.

In case you’re worried about my ability to “be my own person” in a relationship, let me say that I have had some trouble with that in the past, but my Paul and I don’t really (or usually) have that issue. I’ve never determined a hairstyle on the basis of what I perceived any guy would think in any case, but my Paul is good to me, so I want to be good to him, too–including, where practicable, looking nice to him. I would have gotten a bob today regardless of what he thought about it, if it seemed like the best course of action, but I thought it would at least be fair to give him warning–if for no other reason than so that he would recognise me when I walked back in the house this afternoon.

“So,” I said, “it might be kind of short.”

My Paul turned and looked at me. He paused. Then, “Hon,” he said, “you’re lovely. I don’t care what you do to your hair.”

Sorry, ladies. He’s taken.

Also, Bledi-with-Scissors told me, “I don’t think you need to worry right now. You still have plenty of hair–and more is growing in.”

layers

I didn’t get the bob. My Paul and I are both happy.

Hair

My hair is not one of my favourite features. It’s kind of an average colour (rendered non-average solely by the fact that everyone else that has this colour dyes theirs a different one), and it’s too wavy to be straight and too straight to be wavy and if it gets one drop of water on it, it suddenly becomes a frizz-factory. When I was in 7th grade, my mother encouraged me rather strongly (at least I thought so) to get my hair cut, even though I had no aspirations of becoming stylish or even much concept of what that meant. I was still disappointed with Auntie El for spiking her hair that had once been long enough for her to sit on, and even though my hair never got longer than two inches above my waist, my goal was to have hair at least as long as hers had been.

But I finally cooperated with my mother’s urging, had my hair cut into 1980’s layers, and thus began my love-hate relationship with hair salons and haircuts. And maybe my own hair. I’m not going to say it was so beautiful before I got it cut, but I never really thought about its not being so until I started fighting with hairstyles that didn’t suit my face, my hair, or my personality. College-Roommate-Jenne and I used to joke grimly that we were going to shave our heads, and the only thing that kept me, at least, from following through with this out of simple exasperation over what was growing out of it, was that I was pretty sure my head was the wrong shape and I knew for a fact that my ears stick out.

And then, in my early 30’s, I met Bledi, and got my first ever haircut with which I was entirely happy. I’ve gushed over Bledi’s haircuts before in the blogosphere, but I’m going to do it again, because I just had another one. I tell him he’s the only person who has ever known how to cut my hair, and he politely pretends not to believe me, but it doesn’t take long to figure out that I’m telling the truth. Until last Friday, I hadn’t had a haircut from Bledi in over a year. I had, however, had at least two haircuts from other people. I kept thinking surely I was exaggerating to myself that only Bledi could cut my hair properly. Surely there had to be someone else on the planet who could do at least a passable job, a little more affordably. And that’s what I got–passable, and more or less affordable. But I couldn’t bring myself to go back. Then I received a gift in the mail and decided it was high-time for a Bledi haircut.

Here’s the thing about Bledi. Whereas with other hairdressers I have to have a really clear photo of the kind of hairstyle I want, and be able to describe it, and then I find I still didn’t quite end up with what I was hoping for. And I blame it on my hair. But when I go to see Bledi, he says something like, “So, what’s going on? Are we growing it out?”

“Yes,” I say. “Here’s a photo of my friend KS-Christie.” It’s a facebook photo and while it’s clear she has a fantastic new haircut, it may not be the best photo for being able to tell exactly what kind of haircut it is. “My hair’s not long enough yet,” I say, “But this is my goal.”

“What is it that you like about this haircut?” he asks.

“The bangs,” I say. “And all the layers. And the colour–but I’m not doing that.”

“Okay,” he says. Then he gets to work, snipping and straightening out all the layers that weren’t properly cut in there in the first place, and adding a few new ones, and when he’s done I don’t look like KS-Christie, but I do look like a glamourous new version of me. I am very happy.

You would think I would post a photo, and the only reason I’m not doing so is because I can’t style my hair as well as Bledi can; for one thing, I don’t have the magical Moroccan Oil that he used which made my hair a completely different texture than it normally is. But I can tell you I’m still happy with this haircut. What I look for is pretty simple: low-maintenance, hair out of my face, feminine, and suits-me. I don’t think I’ve ever spelled it out that way to Bledi before. But he definitely seems to get it.