Hair is important, and with this pandemic we’re all overdue for some corona hair care. Some of us are suiting up (masks and gloves) and braving the newly reopened salons. Others, meaning me, are more cautious. I’d rather do my hair-cutting at home. But hair-cutters and stylists are artists, and who among us can live up to that challenge?
Like most people, I’m a hapless headmower at best. I didn’t let my shortcomings deter me from cutting my husband’s hair though. His hair was nearing “man-bun” length, an iffy proposition if you have a bald spot on top.
“Remember,” I warned him, “I’m not Brandon (understatement of the century).” Brandon is my husband’s normal barber. He not only washes and cuts Dale’s hair, he also takes a hot towel and gives him a fantastic head rub and face massage. I tried to imitate Brandon’s quick, efficient motion: snip, snip, snip. When divots and gouges began to appear on the back of my husband’s head, I knew I needed to take a break. I paused my scissors a minute, and surveyed my work. Suddenly, an image appeared in my mind from long ago when I was young and idealistic, that time I decided to cut my own hair.
It was my first summer home from college and I was restless. I wanted to travel and do something big, something that would make a difference in the world. Some missionaries had recently visited our church and asked for help (of the money kind, but I took their request literally) with their Navajo mission in Arizona. I prayed about it, and thought I felt God’s call. When I told my mother I was driving to Arizona the next day to help these missionaries, she was shocked. She didn’t want me to go. She knew how impulsive I was, and worried that I’d get myself into trouble. But what could she do?
I believed God wanted me to go to Arizona. To place an exclamation point on my decision, I cut my long, luxurious hair.
The 1920’s beauty icon Coco Chanel once said, “A woman who cuts her hair is about to change her life.” Her words certainly applied to my situation. External stress, like pandemics can cause people to radically change their behaviors, but so too can internal conflict. I remember looking in the mirror before I left for Arizona, scissoring through long shanks of hair. I felt I was divesting myself of my vanity. It also felt congruent. Altering my looks was a symbol of the new life I was about to embark on. I whacked off probably twelve inches of hair. I didn’t cry though. That would come later, down in Arizona, when I realized just how foolish I’d been.
One thing good that came out of my youthful Arizona adventure, I got to meet several interesting Navajos. But living in the Arizona desert is lonely. I spent four months there, and came away definitely schooled in the differences between my Christian culture and Native American traditions.
And speaking of hair, though I might have looked like a concentration camp survivor, the Navajos, both women and men, had gorgeous thick, black hair.
I was reminded of their beautiful hair when I browsed the web recently, and saw a couple of Indian men playing The Sounds of Silence with a pan flute and some other instruments. The music was haunting and wonderful, but my eyes were drawn to their hair, and the lengthy braids that framed their faces.
When I’d finished barbering my husband, I thought I’d done a pretty good job. Somehow I was able to feather out all the hair notches I’d made. It was a nice, short summer cut. But I wondered about Dale growing out his hair, what he’d look like with a long braid running down the side of his face.